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California’s New Workplace Violence Protection Laws

Posted on March 21, 2024 in Employment Law

New workplace violence protection laws in California will require employers to have a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan soon. These laws set a new standard for businesses and pave the way for additional protections under employment laws in San Diego.

What the Plan Will Address 

A company’s Workplace Violence Prevention Plan should create guidance for the following directives:

  • Training employees on identifying violence in the workplace and how to report it
  • Providing information on how to avoid workplace violence
  • Establishing a way to track violent incidents
  • Address how retaliation against reporting employees will be managed
  • Establish a post-incident investigation protocol
  • Providing an annual review of the plan to identify its strengths and weaknesses

This plan should be readily available to employees and consist of an independent document or be included in a company’s injury and illness prevention plan (IIPP)

How Workplace Violence is Defined

The initial workplace violence prevention plan by Cal/OSHA (California/Occupational Safety and Health Administration) defines workplace violence as any threat of or act of violence occurring in a place of employment resulting in the threat or use of force leading to or producing the extreme potential of injury, psychological trauma, or stress, despite the employee sustaining an injury or not. The incident may include threats of or use of a firearm, dangerous weapon, or ordinary object used as a weapon, whether an injury results or not. Four types of workplace violence are identified in this definition.

Training Requirements

Employees will adhere to mandatory initial training under the new bill. Annual training will be required by law. Topics in the training include:

  • The Workplace Violence Prevention Plan and how to obtain a copy of it
  • How to get assistance responding to or preventing violence
  • Reporting procedures for violence hazards and incidents in the workplace
  • Measures the employer may take to correct these incidents
  • Action plans to avert physical harm
  • How to obtain a copy and information about the required violent incident log

As deficiencies in the plan are identified or changes are implemented, additional training will occur. Seeking clarification of your rights may be required.

Reporting Obligations

A violent incident log must include any incident of workplace violence and note the following:

  • Date, time, and location of the incident
  • The type of workplace violence identified in the Cal/OSHA definition of workplace violence
  • A description of the act to include specific incident characteristics and offender classification
  • Consequences resulting from the incident and other agency involvement, such as law enforcement
  • Steps taken for prevention of further violence
  • Name, job title, and date of who completed the entry and when

Changes to Current Laws on Requesting Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO) on an Employee’s Behalf

Collective bargaining representatives, in addition to employers, will now be allowed to petition for temporary restraining orders to provide protections to employees and also to provide anonymity for violence victims who may have feared retaliation for filing a TRO. Restraining orders may additionally be sought in acts of harassment toward an employee.

Experiencing an Act of Workplace Violence in California

Most companies will be required to have a plan in place beginning July 1, 2024, with standards codifying SB 553 and their adoption followed by designated dates. Seek help immediately from our San Diego employment law lawyer if you experience an act of workplace violence in San Diego and no action is taken by an employer to address your concerns. 

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