Sunday, November 20, 2005

New California Legislation: Workplace Violence Safety Act

Under the California Workplace Violence Safety Act, employers may seek a temporary restraining order or injunction against anyone who poses a threat to the workplace, such as a disgruntled former employee or client, or the spouse of an employee who is a victim of domestic violence.

A workplace protective order protects not only the victim of the violence or threat of violence, but also the victim's co-workers. Under current law, after the protective order is obtained, the employer must serve the order on the perpetrator to ensure he or she has notice and therefore is subject to enforcement for violations of the order.

Workplace protective orders often are difficult for employers to serve, as the location of the perpetrator can be difficult to ascertain. California just recently adopted legislation to make this process easier. The new law requires law enforcement officers responding to the scene of reported unlawful violence or a credible threat of violence to provide the perpetrator with verbal notice of the protective order. The officer's verbal notice of the terms of the order constitutes service of the order and sufficient legal notice. Once verbal notice of the order has been given, the employer need only mail an endorsed copy of the restraining order to the individual within one day. This relaxation of the service requirements will make it less difficult for employers to protect employees from violence or the threat of violence.

If someone violates a restraining order under this law, the first conviction is punishable by a fien and up to one year in jail. Although a victim of harassment or domestic violence can obtain a restraining order on their own, an restraining order Workplace Violence Safety Act can also protect the victim and coworkers. Employers can proactively make the work place safer for the victim, clients and other employees.

About the Author: Carl H. Starrett II has been a licensed attorney since 1993 and is a member in good standing with the California State Bar and the San Diego County Bar Association. Mr. Starrett practices in the areas of bankruptcy, business litigation, construction, corporate planning and debt collection.


Anonymous said...

I work for the University of California. On May 25th, a fellow employee started an argument with me and ended up yellilng at me and shaking his fist in my face. I was sitting in a chair and the door was on the opposite of the room so it was difficult to extract myself from this situation.

When I was able to leave the room I did so and called a supervisor and told him what had happened. I told him I was going home and mentioned filing a workmen's claim for the wages lost. The following day I spoke with a Santa Cruz Sheriff who told me the situtation was actually a case of workplace violence and I should follow up with the supervisor on that issue.

The coordinator of my program (if you can believe it I am a Community Safety Officer) has yet to do anything. The universioty has protocols for handling workplace violence but nobody has contacted me. They are now talking about making me work with the employee again and I am definately concerned.

The University policies a dn procedures are found at:

I assume there are state laws abougt handling these issues and would like both advice and where to find the state laws.

Dr. Mark Grossman said...

Very informative article - I would just add that employees play a very important role in preventing violence in the workplace. They're on the front lines; they may be the first ones to see behavior in a co-worker, customer or vendor that makes them uncomfortable or even scared. It's important that employees recognize troubling behaviors and what action to take when they see them. The goal is to get the right people in your company quickly involved to handle the potential threat. This ultimately results in a safer workplace for all.