PROTECTING YOUR BUSINESS AND EMPLOYEES FROM VIOLENCE

I get asked quite often from employers on how they can protect themselves as well as their employees from workplace violence. While not a full proof method, a restraining order can be your best friend! There are various types of restraining orders and knowing the right type of restraining order to use may make the order more enforceable. There are basically four types of restraining orders and not just a Workplace Violence Restraining Order may be applicable:

  • Domestic Violence Restraining Orders (used in cases where employees are dating or married)
  • Elder Abuse Restraining Orders (deals when the employee or employer is 65 or older)
  • Civil Harassment Restraining Orders (this is your typical restraining order used when there is fear or danger)
  • Workplace Violence Restraining Order (specific to workplace situations) California Code of Civil Procedure Section 527.8 Permits Employers to Obtain Court Orders to Protect Employees Against Workplace Violence.

In 1994, California enacted the Workplace Violence Safety Act, which permits employers to obtain injunctions to protect their employees against violence in the workplace. In order to obtain the injunction, the employer must present evidence that an "employee has suffered unlawful violence or a credible threat of violence from any individual, that can reasonably be construed to be carried out or to have been carried out at the workplace." The injunction may be obtained on behalf of the specific employee being targeted, as well as "any number of other employees at the workplace, and, if appropriate, other employees at other workplaces of the employer." Even the employer may need a restraining order especially in nasty terminations or threats against the employer and/or company.

Upon filing the petition for an injunction, the employer may obtain a temporary restraining order (TRO) that remains in place until the hearing on the injunction. To do so, the employer must file "a declaration that, to the satisfaction of the court, shows reasonable proof that an employee has suffered unlawful violence or a credible threat of violence by the respondent, and that great or The irreparable harm would result to an employee."

The hearing that will determine if the temporary restraining order is to be made permanent usually will come within 30 days of the issuance the temporary restraining order. As an employer, your attorney should be prepared to go to court and argue before a judge as to why the temporary restraining order should be made permanent.

A recent ground-breaking decision will make it easier for employers to obtain restraining orders to protect their employees from violence in the workplace. A California appellate court has ruled that "all relevant evidence" must be considered in such proceedings – even otherwise inadmissible hearsay.

Restraining orders can be a "slippery slope" if not properly considered and written. Should you seek a restraining order as an option for an employee, please consult HRI so we can assist you in making your decision.

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