Contributed by Michael Wong
In today’s day and age, workplace violence is becoming more and more of an issue for employers. While employers have control over their employees and property, it can be difficult for them to obtain protection for their property and employees from other individuals, including disgruntled ex-employees or a violent former client/customer.
The Illinois Legislature recently sent the Workplace Violence Act, H.B. 2590, to the Governor to review and approve. If approved by the Governor, the Workplace Violence Act will allow an employer to seek an order of protection to prohibit further violence or threats by an individual on the employer’s premises or against its employees. Currently, there are a few options for an employer seeking to prohibit an individual from accessing its property, including notifying the individual that they are trespassing and seeking help from law enforcement or filing a civil lawsuit against the individual for trespassing and seeking a temporary restraining order.
However, those options do not necessarily provide the same level of protection or enforcement as an order of protection and it can take time to get a temporary restraining order. Under the proposed Workplace Violence Act, an employer would be entitled to basically the same rights as individuals in seeking orders of protection for domestic violence. If it is enacted, the Workplace Violence Act will exponentially simplify the process and allow an employer to get an order of protection by (1) filing an affidavit that shows reasonable proof that an employee has suffered either unlawful violence or a credible threat of violence by an individual, and (2) demonstrating that great or irreparable harm has been suffered, will be suffered, or is likely to be suffered by the employee if the order of protection is not granted.
Furthermore, a change to the Illinois Domestic Violence Act by the recently enacted Firearm Concealed Carry Act would allow an employer, if the Workplace Violence Act is signed into law, to request that the individual subject to the order of protection be required to turnover any firearms that he or she possesses and his or her FOID card to prevent them from legally carrying or possessing a firearm.
Simply, H.B. 2590 which sets forth the Workplace Violence Act, if signed into law by the Governor will become another tool that employers may use to protect their property and employees.