California’s New Workplace Violence Protection Laws
On September 20, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 553 into law, detailing how covered employers must prevent and respond to workplace violence. SB 553 added Section 6401.9 to the California Labor Code, effective July 1, 2024. Covered employers must adopt a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan, including:
“(A) Names or job titles of the persons responsible for implementing the plan. If there are multiple persons responsible for the plan, their roles shall be clearly described.
(B) Effective procedures to obtain the active involvement of employees and authorized employee representatives in developing and implementing the plan, including, but not limited to, through their participation in identifying, evaluating, and correcting workplace violence hazards, in designing and implementing training, and in reporting and investigating workplace violence incidents.
(C) Methods the employer will use to coordinate implementation of the plan with other employers, when applicable, to ensure that those employers and employees understand their respective roles, as provided in the plan. These methods shall ensure that all employees are provided the training required by subdivision (e) and that workplace violence incidents involving any employee are reported, investigated, and recorded.
(D) Effective procedures for the employer to accept and respond to reports of workplace violence, and to prohibit retaliation against an employee who makes such a report.
(E) Effective procedures to ensure that supervisory and nonsupervisory employees comply with the plan in a manner consistent with paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 3203 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations.
(F) Effective procedures to communicate with employees regarding workplace violence matters, including, but not limited to, both of the following:
(i) How an employee can report a violent incident, threat, or other workplace violence concern to the employer or law enforcement without fear of reprisal.
(ii) How employee concerns will be investigated as part of the employer’s responsibility in complying with subparagraph (I), and how employees will be informed of the results of the investigation and any corrective actions to be taken as part of the employer’s responsibility in complying with subparagraph (J).
(G) Effective procedures to respond to actual or potential workplace violence emergencies, including, but not limited to, all of the following:
(i) Effective means to alert employees of the presence, location, and nature of workplace violence emergencies.
(ii) Evacuation or sheltering plans that are appropriate and feasible for the worksite.
(iii) How to obtain help from staff assigned to respond to workplace violence emergencies, if any, security personnel, if any, and law enforcement.
(H) Procedures to develop and provide the training required in subdivision (e).
(I) Procedures to identify and evaluate workplace violence hazards, including, but not limited to, scheduled periodic inspections to identify unsafe conditions and work practices and employee reports and concerns. Inspections shall be conducted when the plan is first established, after each workplace violence incident, and whenever the employer is made aware of a new or previously unrecognized hazard.
(J) Procedures to correct workplace violence hazards identified and evaluated in subparagraph (I) in a timely manner consistent with paragraph (6) of subdivision (a) of Section 3203 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations.
(K) Procedures for post incident response and investigation.
(L) Procedures to review the effectiveness of the plan and revise the plan as needed, including, but not limited to, procedures to obtain the active involvement of employees and authorized employee representatives in reviewing the plan. The plan shall be reviewed at least annually, when a deficiency is observed or becomes apparent, and after a workplace violence incident.
(M) Procedures or other information required by the division and standards board as being necessary and appropriate to protect the health and safety of employees, pursuant to subdivision (h).”
Employers Can Seek Restraining Orders On Behalf of Employees Experiencing Violence or Threat of Violence
The new law enables employers to request temporary restraining orders on behalf of employees facing genuine threats or instances of violence in their workplace. This provision fosters improved safety measures for all employees if an incident occurs or credible threats have been presented. This means your employer can step in when necessary to help guarantee everyone’s well-being at work.
Employer Must Record All Information in a Violent Incident Log
As a part of creating a safe workplace, employers are required to document all instances of violence in an incident log. They must investigate each incident and gather information from the involved employees as well as any witnesses.
Emphasizing privacy and confidentiality, these logs do not include personal details that could potentially reveal identities of anyone involved in the incident, including names, contact details, or social security numbers. Logs that record violent incidents play a crucial role in helping employers better understand patterns and risk factors for workplace violence, thus enabling them to create more comprehensive preventative strategies moving forward.
Workplace Violence Training Requirements
Under the new law, employers have an obligation to provide employees with thorough training on workplace violence prevention. This involves initially educating staff when the violence prevention plan is introduced and subsequently on an annual basis. The areas that this training must cover include:
“(A) An overview of the plan, information on how you can get a copy of it at no cost, and education on how you can participate in developing and implementing the pan.
(B) Knowledge about definitions and requirements in the new law.
(C) A clear understanding of how to report workplace violence or concerns to the employer or law enforcement without fear of punishment or retaliation
(D) Knowledge of potential workplace violence hazards particular to employee roles, corrective measures put in place by the employer to improve safety, the process for seeking help to prevent or handle violent situations, and strategies that lessen the chance of physical injury.
(E) Knowledge regarding the violent incident log and how to obtain copies “of records required by paragraphs (1) to (3), inclusive, of subdivision (f).”
(F) An interactive question and answer session with a knowledgeable person about the employer’s plan.”
By understanding the expectations placed on employers through the new law, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of your rights when it comes to workplace violence. This awareness empowers you to actively participate in and stand up for your safety at work. If you have any questions or need help dealing with a workplace incident, don’t hesitate to contact our employment law attorneys in San Diego today to schedule a free consultation.