Illinois enacted the Workplace Violence Protection Act (House Bill 2590) to help employers to protect their workforce, customers, guests and property by limiting access to workplaces by potentially violent individuals. Under the act, which took effect on Jan. 1, 2014, employers may seek a protective order to prohibit further violence or threats of violence in the workplace. The law applies to both public and private employers—including partnerships, corporations, state agencies, or political subdivisions—that have at least five employees.
“When an employee walks into work they should be afforded a certain level of protection from brutal acts of violence,” said State Sen. Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap, who sponsored the bill. “This new law will allow employers to seek orders of protection against an employee who may have demonstrated prior acts of aggression or made credible threats against other employees or a workplace.”
Under the law, an employer may seek an order of protection from the local court jurisdiction to prohibit further violence or threats of violence by an individual if: 1) the employee has suffered unlawful violence or a credible threat of violence from the individual; and 2) the unlawful violence has been carried out at the employee’s place of work or the credible threat of violence can reasonably be construed to be carried out at the employee’s place of work by the individual.
In addition, an employer may obtain an order of protection under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act by filing an affidavit that shows, to the satisfaction of the court, reasonable proof that an employee has suffered either unlawful violence or a credible threat of violence by the defendant and that demonstrates that great or irreparable harm has been suffered, will be suffered, or is likely to be suffered by the employee.
The law defines a credible threat of violence as a statement of course of conduct that does not serve a legitimate purpose and that causes a reasonable person to fear for the person’s safety or for the safety of the person’s immediate family. It defines an unlawful act of violence as any act of violence, harassment, or stalking as defined by state laws.
Employer remedies under the act are limited to an order of protection.
House Bill 2590 was an initiative of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. The legislation passed both assembly chambers unanimously and was signed by Governor Pat Quinn on Aug. 16, 2013. The law took effect on Jan. 1. 2014, as Public Act 98-0430.
Susan R. Heylman, J.D., is a freelance legal writer and editor based in the Washington, D.C., area.