HR Management & Compliance

Protecting Your Employees: Making the Most of California’s Workplace Violence Restraining Order Statute

While workplaces all have unique objectives and challenges, the desire to protect your employees from unlawful harassment is universal. Employees, in their day-to-day work activities, often interact with both members of their organization and members of the public. As employers, you hope that all of your employees’ interpersonal interactions are positive. However, this isn’t always the case, and at times, employees can find themselves in dangerous, emotionally abusive, and even traumatizing situations. In California, if your employee faces any unlawful violence or threat of violence during their course of work, it is important to know that you, as the employer, have the right to seek protection for your employee.


The California legislature enacted section 527.8 of the California Code of Civil Procedure (“the statute”) to allow employers to seek a Workplace Violence Restraining Order to protect one or more of their employees from unlawful violence or the threat of violence in the workplace.

The statute provides that “Any employer, whose 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, may seek a temporary restraining order and an order after hearing on behalf of the employee and, at the discretion of the court, any number of other employees at the workplace, and, if appropriate, other employees at other workplaces of the employer.”

Protecting Multiple Employees

When the California legislature amended the statute to its current version, they expressly intended for the statute to be able to be extended and utilized to protect more than one employee at a time. In 2006, the legislature considered extending a prior version of the statute to its now current version. In deciding whether to adopt the extended version of the statute, the legislature acknowledged that the new version would allow employers to seek orders protecting multiple work sites and multiple employees.

Ultimately, the expanded version was adopted and is the version currently in effect. The legislature’s adoption of the expansion had a twofold impact. First, it reduces the burden on employers by eliminating the time and expense of seeking multiple protective orders. Second, the statute enables the court systems to operate more efficiently by protecting multiple employees or work sites at once.

In 2019, a California Court of Appeal explored this facet of the statute when granting a Workplace Violence Restraining Order that protected any current employee of the employer seeking the order in People v. Kelly (Cal. Ct. Ap., Dec. 3, 2019, No. 2D CRIM. B296697). The Court there held that extending the Workplace Violence Restraining Order to cover all current employees was not unconstitutionally overbroad because the statute expressly grants the trial court authority to extend protection to any number of other employees. In that case, the order was granted to protect all employees from an individual who had engaged in a campaign of harassment, threats, and intimidation of several employees of the company.

In practice, seeking a Workplace Violence Restraining Order to protect multiple employees can be a great solution when the individual committing violence or threatening violence against your employee or employees is not seeking out any one person in particular to harass, but rather is harassing an employee because of their role as a member of your organization. If an employee was harassed, threatened, or assaulted simply for being at their workplace and doing their job in your organization, you can seek an order to protect all employees in the same or similar role because they are equally in danger of future harassment or violence.

The statute provides a path to the protection of one or multiple employees, and it is a useful tool in keeping your workplace a safe environment where employees can thrive. Employees gain the confidence and security of knowing there are legal pathways in place to keep them out of harm’s way, while employers can save on the costs of pursuing these orders individually.

Breana L. Burgos & Samantha M. Bacon are attorneys at Hanson Bridgett LLP.

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