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What is California Senate Bill (SB) 533?

Signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on September 30, 2023, Senate Bill (SB) 533 made some changes to how employers are expected to handle workplace violence. At The Law Office of Alice A. Strömbom, we understand that any violation of your workplace rights is something that shouldn’t be tolerated. Contact us today to set up an initial consultation to learn more about your options.

Why Was SB 533 Passed?

Workplace violence is a serious problem in a lot of workplaces in California. Violence, obviously, covers different forms of harassment that’s outlawed by the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). But as it currently stands, employers have a lot of latitude when it comes to putting actual policies in place for how to handle workplace violence.

First and foremost, workplace violence is generally understood to be any actions or behavior that creates a hostile work environment. Usually, this involves things like:

  • Verbal threats
  • Physical assaults
  • Property damage
  • Stalking
  • Bullying

With SB 533, there’s two major requirements for employers: putting a written workplace violence prevention plan in place and implementing employee training programs. These two components are very closely related, and many employers may already have such things in place. Still, it’s important to look at what these entail.

What Needs to Be in a Workplace Violence Prevention Plan?

Because every workplace is different, there’s a variety of different levels of management and structure that allows the business to operate. Still, virtually all employers understand the negative impact that can come from violence or threats of violence between workers. SB 533 applies to every workplace in California except:

  • Certain healthcare or correctional facilities
  • Employees working remotely
  • Businesses with less than 10 employees

As you can see, the vast majority of workplaces in California are then required to follow SB 533, more specifically to have a workplace violence prevention plan when there’s incidents of violence. There’s a number of requirements for these plans, but they must include some form of the following in terms of a written policy:

  • A clear statement saying the company is committed to preventing violence.
  • Identifying potential risks at work.
  • Ways to prevent violence, like teaching employees how to handle conflicts.
  • Steps for reporting violence or threats, and who needs to be informed.
  • Plans for what to do if violence happens.
  • Making sure everyone knows about the program.
  • Checking regularly to see if the program is working and updating it as needed.

Implementing these as a matter of policy can usually head off any potential issues, but there’s always the chance that incidents can happen. That’s where the second part of the requirements come in.

Training Programs For Workplace Violence

Just having a plan in place for workplace violence sometimes doesn’t do enough to deter incidents. More to the point, it can be hard to police everyone, especially people that work in huge offices or workspaces. That’s where training can help, as it gives you and other employees the responsibility of knowing how to approach and respond to these incidents.

Under SB 533, training programs for workplace violence should include real-world scenarios of the following elements:

  • An overview of the employer’s workplace violence prevention plan
  • Guidelines on reporting workplace violence incidents or concerns to the employer or law enforcement without fear of retaliation
  • Risks of workplace violence
  • Corrective measures in place
  • How to get help or report incidents of violence
  • Steps to talk to someone in charge (entering an “interactive dialogue”) when there’s incidents of workplace violence

In terms of enforcement, SB 533 will be under the purview of Cal/OSHA and violations will carry civil penalties. Successfully pursuing a workplace violence claim usually takes the assistance of an experienced lawyer. My firm can help you in this situation.

Protect Your Workplace Rights in Sacramento With Strömbom Law

At the Law Office of Alice A. Strömbom, we stand up for those who have been victims of retaliation and workplace violence, striving to hold co-workers and employers accountable for their actions. We can explain your options and how the claims process works, all the while supporting you and protecting your workplace rights. To get started with a consultation, contact us today.