• Domestic Violence in the Louisiana Workplace, Part 4: Protective Orders
  • September 9, 2016 | Author: Rachael M. Coe
  • Law Firm: Breazeale, Sachse & Wilson, L.L.P. - New Orleans Office
  • It is not a matter of if, but when an employer will be confronted with a challenging domestic violence-related issue in the workplace. Domestic violence not only causes lost productivity and increased costs for employers, but also raises a host of potential legal obligations and liabilities that employers cannot afford to overlook. In this monthly series, Labor and Employment attorney Rachael Coe will discuss the various ways that domestic violence impacts the Louisiana workplace and what employers need to know in order to protect their employees, their customers, and themselves.

    Domestic violence victims can secure a protective order against the abuser, which will often require the perpetrator to stay away from the victim’s place of work and refrain from contacting the victim while he or she is at work. Employers should be familiar with how protective orders function in the workplace and how the employer should respond to a situation involving a protective order.

    Louisiana protective orders come in many forms, including temporary restraining orders, injunctions against abuse, peace bonds, and criminal orders of protection. These orders can be issued by family, criminal, juvenile, and civil courts. In addition to ordering physical separation and communication prohibitions, the individual protective order can provide other resources needed for safety, such as domiciliary rights, custody, vehicle use, and financial resources. Full protective orders can last indefinitely. Protective orders from other states are enforceable in Louisiana: Louisiana courts must give “full faith and credit” to protective orders issued in other states, and enforce them just as they would enforce Louisiana protective orders.

    The law provides a process for obtaining a civil protective order. If a person seeks a protective order enjoining abuse, he or she will first obtain an ex parte temporary restraining order (“TRO”) which the court will issue without a hearing. The court will review a petition for a TRO, and if the court finds that the victim has properly alleged facts showing that he or she is entitled to a protective order, the court will issue a TRO. Like protective orders, a TRO can also provide other resources needed for safety. The TRO will remain in in effect until a later hearing date to issue a protective order, which is typically within 21 days of the petition.

    An employer should not take a TRO or a protective order lightly because it provides notice of violence. If an employee tells the employer about a TRO or a protective order, employers should immediately do the following: ask for a copy of the TRO or protective order and review its parameters; notify on-site security and provide security with a picture of the perpetrator and the victim, as well as a copy of the protective order; and, most importantly, meet with the victim to develop a safety plan. Difficulty arises when one employee has a TRO or protective order against a co-worker. Keep in mind that this is a court order, and the employer must do everything possible to keep the employees separated. This may necessitate changing work schedules and locations to decrease the chances that the employees will cross paths, as well as implementing unique features to the safety plan.

    Next month’s article will discuss stalking, a common concern for employers handling domestic violence situations.