When you work, you should have a reasonable expectation that you are safe from violence and harm. Unfortunately, workplace violence is very real and needs to be taken seriously. In fact, employers have a duty under federal and state laws to maintain a safe workplace. In California, the legislature has implemented two major acts to specifically address workplace violence.
California Occupational Safety and Health Act and Healthcare Employees
The California Occupational Safety and Health Act is administered by the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (CAL/OSHA), which recognizes three primary types of workplace violence:
1. The first type is injury or death that comes as a result of a work-related robbery. This may happen with store clerks, security guards, bank tellers, and taxi drivers.
2. The second type of workplace violence is perpetrated by someone receiving a service from the victim. The legislature has recognized that healthcare providers, such as nursing assistants or psychiatric assistants are disproportionately more likely to experience violence than other professions. The perpetrators are patients and their families. In addition, janitorial workers are also frequent targets of violence.
3. The third type of workplace violence involves the actual workplace and may involve a disgruntled employee, a domestic violence situation, or a person with some animosity with an employee who choses to commit violence at the victim's place of work.
Under this Act, the employer must create and maintain an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIP), which should include a workplace violence program. Currently, the only field that requires a workplace violence program as part of its IIP is in the health care field. Essentially, healthcare employers are required to create and implement a workplace violence program, to provide notice to employees of violence protocol, to identify and train employees regarding risk factors in the workplace, and to properly investigate incidents of workplace violence.
California Workplace Violence Safety Act
Under the California Workplace Violence Safety Act, employers have a direct method of protecting employees at risk of violence. The act explicitly allows employers to go to court to seek Workplace Violence Restraining Orders on behalf of employees. The employer must show that: (1) violence has occurred or that there is a "credible threat of violence"; (2) that this violence has happened or will happen in the workplace; and (3) that the accused is not acting within their legal rights.
You Need a Lawyer
If you fear for your safety at work due to previous violence or a threat of future violence, let your employer know. If your employer does not take adequate steps to provide you with a safe workplace, they have violated the law. At Moss Bollinger, we stand up to employers who have not fulfilled their legal duties to employees. We will make sure that your voice is heard and will do everything in our power to hold your employer accountable. Call Moss Bollinger at (800) 249-1175 for a free consultation or contact us online.