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Employers Should Consider a WVRO for Employees - Labor and Employment Law News

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Labor and Employment Law News

Posted on: Feb 29, 2016

By Judge David Certo, Marion Superior Court

As a lawyer, you and your clients have terrific employees. However, even great employees can become victims of domestic or family violence, and you should consider a broad range of tools when developing a safety plan for your employees and your workplace. One tool attorneys should consider in safety planning is a Workplace Violence Restraining Order (WVRO) issued under IC 34-26-6. 

If an employer believes an employee is subject to a credible threat of unlawful violence[1], the employer can petition a court for a WVRO as a temporary restraining order for up to 15 days.  These orders may be requested and issued ex parte. If a judge concludes by clear and convincing evidence[2] the employee has experienced unlawful violence or a credible threat of violence that occurred or may reasonably be construed to occur in the future at the workplace, the judge shall issue a WVRO as an injunction for up to three years.

A WVRO can prohibit a respondent from contacting employees[3] and their family members, going to their homes, workplaces, and schools, or coming to the employer’s facilities, among other terms. Only an employer[4] can obtain a WVRO on behalf of the employee, although the employee also may qualify for a personal civil protection order.

For best practices concerning WVRO, the Protection Order Deskbook prepared for judicial officers by the Protection Order Committee of the Judicial Conference of Indiana is available on line.  It includes statutes, State forms, procedures, and case citations and can be found here.[5] 

Electronic versions of State forms and instructions for obtaining WVRO are available here.  The instructions include helpful definitions and examples of conduct that may be enjoined, procedures to apply for and obtain a WVRO, and directions to obtain service on the subject of the order. Although the instructions include simple directions for applicants to apply without an attorney’s assistance, IC 34-9-1-1 may require corporations and some other legal entities to be represented by counsel.

David Certo is a member of the executive committee of the IndyBar Litigation Section.  He is a judge of the Marion Superior Court and heard thousands of cases involving civil orders of protection and WVRO during more than three years presiding in Criminal Court 21.

According to Indiana Code of Judicial Conduct, Rule 3.10, “A judge shall not practice law.”  This article is not intended and does not purport to give legal advice.  Please consult an attorney for legal counsel.  Any opinions contained in this article are the author’s own. 

[1] “Unlawful violence” includes battery under IC 35-42-2 (knowingly or intentionally touching another person in a rude, insolent, or angry manner, except in self-defense or in defense of others) and stalking under IC 35-45-10 (a knowing or intentional course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment of another person that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, or threatened and actually causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, or threatened).

[2] Contrast with preponderance of the evidence standard for civil protection orders issued pursuant to the Indiana Civil Protection Order Act, IC 34-26-5.

[3] According to IC 34-26-6-3, employees may include volunteers, independent contractors, elected or appointed officials, and members of boards of directors.

[4] According to IC 34-26-6-4, an employer may be an individual, partnership, association, limited liability company, corporation, business trust, the State, a governmental agency, or a political subdivision that has at least two employees during any work week.

[5] The caveat in the Deskbook states it is not an official publication of the Indiana Supreme Court and says it does not purport to be an authoritative statement of Indiana law. 


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