What is a gun violence restraining order, and how does the new law (AB 61) on gun violence restraining orders affect employers?
Employers have a duty to ensure that employees have a safe and healthy workplace, and in certain situations where violence or threats of violence are involved, an employer may find itself investigating dangerous behaviors, or even having to seek a restraining order against a dangerous individual.
California Code of Civil Procedure 527.8 allows an employer to obtain a temporary and permanent restraining order on an employee’s behalf where there is evidence of violent acts or credible threats of violence (see Labor Law Corner article).
And now, under AB 61, there is another type of restraining order that employers may seek to have issued by the court where circumstances warrant it—one that is specific to guns and ammunition.
Gun Violence Restraining Order
An ex parte gun violence restraining order is an order that can be issued by a court, prohibiting an individual from owning, purchasing, possessing, receiving, or otherwise having in their custody or control, a firearm or ammunition.
In order for a gun violence restraining order to be issued, it must be shown that there is a substantial likelihood that:
• The subject of the petition poses a significant danger of self-harm or harm to another in the near future by having a firearm, and that
• The order is necessary to prevent personal injury to the subject of the petition, or someone else.
Who May Petition
Under AB 61, the types of individuals who can file a petition for a gun violence restraining order include:
• An employer of the subject of the petition;
• A co-worker of the subject of the petition, if the co-worker has had substantial and regular interactions with the subject for at least one year and has obtained approval of the employer;
• An employee or teacher of a secondary or postsecondary school that the subject has attended in the last six months, if the employee or teacher has obtained the approval of a school administrator or a school administration staff member with a supervisorial role;
• An immediate family member of the subject of the petition;
• A law enforcement officer.
Previously, only an immediate family member of an individual or a law enforcement officer could file a petition requesting that the court issue a gun violence restraining order.
Under the new law, beginning September 1, 2020, employers and co-workers will be included on the list of individuals who can file such a petition. Once in place, the gun violence restraining order may last between one to five years.
Talk to Legal Counsel
In situations where violence or credible threats of violence are involved in the workplace, it is best to work with an attorney to conduct a thorough investigation, prepare a plan of action, and for assistance with filing the required legal documents if seeking any type of restraining order.
Column based on questions asked by callers on the Labor Law Helpline, a service to California Chamber of Commerce preferred and executive members. For expert explanations of labor laws and Cal/OSHA regulations, not legal counsel for specific situations, call (800) 348-2262 or submit your question at www.hrcalifornia.com.