When an employee raises a concern that he or she has suffered violence or threat of violence that has been, or may be, carried out at the workplace, employers have a duty to investigate the employee’s concerns. An employer whose employee has suffered unlawful violence or threat of violence from any individual that can be construed to be, or to have been, carried out at the workplace, may seek a restraining order through the court, pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 572.8.
To obtain a temporary restraining order, the employer must establish by evidence that there has been an act of violence or a real credible threat of violence. In many cases, a judge will likely issue the temporary restraining order the same day the paperwork is submitted to the court. The TRO will remain in effect pending a hearing on whether a permanent injunction should be issue.
Although human resources representatives may participate in the employers initial investigation into an employee’s complaint, they are not permitted to sign the TRO paperwork submitted to the court; only owners and officers of a corporation or the company’s attorney may sign on a company’s behalf. In situations that involve either violence or real credible threats of violence, it is best to consult an attorney to ensure that your investigation is thorough and proper, and that the evidence submitted to a judge accurately reflects the immediate need for a restraining order.