- The California Legislature passed a bill Sept. 12 that would require companies to create workplace violence prevention plans.
- Under SB 553, set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2025, most employers would need to maintain logs on violent incidents and provide training to workers on how to report incidents. The bill also authorizes collective bargaining representatives to seek temporary restraining orders on behalf of workers who were victims of violence or threats of violence. SB 553 will soon head to Gov. Gavin Newsom for approval.
- “I’m grateful to my colleagues in the legislature for standing up for workers and businesses at this time of rising workplace violence,” State Senator Dave Cortese, D-San Jose, the bill’s author, said in a statement. “This groundbreaking bill represents a lengthy negotiation and collaboration between business and labor organizations.”
Cortese said the bill was prompted by a 2021 shooting at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) railyard in San Jose that killed 10 people, including the shooter.
An independent investigator found the transportation authority didn't have prior knowledge or warning that the worker was planning a mass shooting, VTA said. The agency had received complaints from the shooter’s colleagues that he was dissatisfied at work, but “none of the complaints were such that they would have put VTA on notice that there would be an imminent workplace shooting,” VTA said.
There were five documented reports of workplace misconduct by the shooter. In addition, VTA noted a 2016 incident involving the Department of Homeland Security at San Francisco International Airport, where the worker was carrying documents expressing his unhappiness with his job. That incident wasn’t reported to local law enforcement or VTA, the transportation authority said.
As a result of the shooting, VTA said it was looking into ways to improve the workplace culture and, along with employees’ unions, started offering mental health counseling for workers and their families.
Amid reports of workplace violence across the country, a safety expert recommended employers update their workplace violence prevention and mitigation plans to reflect changing technology and workplace concerns. The expert called active assailant training a “baseline minimum” employers can offer workers.