What is a workplace violence restraining order? How do I get one?
A workplace violence restraining order is an order available to an employer if his/her employee is an abuse victim – the employer can file for it even if no violence has occurred at the workplace. If you are an employer, there are clear, easy-to-understand instructions on how to obtain a workplace violence restraining order at the Indiana Courts website.
An employer may seek protection under this law if the employee has experienced unlawful violence that occurred at the workplace or a credible threat of violence that could reasonably be carried out in the workplace.1
A “credible threat of violence” is defined as a statement or course of conduct that does not serve a legitimate purpose and that causes a reasonable person to fear for her safety or for the safety of her immediate family.2 A “course of conduct” can include any of the following behaviors (but there must be repeated incidents, not just one):
- Following or stalking the employee to or from the employee’s place of work;
- Entering the employee’s place of work;
- Following the employee during the employee’s work hours;
- Making telephone calls to an employee during the employee’s work hours; and/or
- Sending correspondence to an employee by postal mail, interoffice mail, fax, or electronic mail.3
Note: if you are the victim, you cannot file for this yourself; your employer would file for it. If you want to file for your own order for protection, go to our Orders for Protection (due to domestic violence, harassment, stalking, or a sex offense) page to read more info.
1 IC § 34-26-6-6
2 IC § 34-26-6-2
3 IC § 34-26-6-1
What types of workplace violence restraining orders are there? How long do they last?
There are two types of workplace violence restraining orders:
- an ex parte or temporary restraining order (TRO) issued without a hearing that lasts a maximum of 15 days, and
- an injunction (an order issued after a hearing) that lasts up to 3 years.
To get a temporary ex parte order, the employer has to allege in the petition and prove that serious harm has been suffered by the employee or will be suffered by the employee due to the abuser.1
1 IC § 34-26-6-7 (2)
What protections can I get in a workplace violence restraining order?
A workplace violence restraining order can order the abuser to:
- stay away from you and your family/ household members;
- stay away from your home, work, school, vehicle, child’s school or daycare, or other location;1
- not commit further unlawful violence against the victim or her family/household members;
- not commit “credible threats of violence” against the victim or her family/household members, which include:
- following or stalking the employee to or from the employee’s place of work;
- entering the employee’s place of work;
- following the employee during the employee’s work hours;
- making telephone calls to an employee during the employee’s work hours; and
- sending correspondence to an employee by postal mail, interoffice mail, fax, or electronic mail.2
1 See “Petition of employer for injunction prohibiting violence or threats of violence against employee,” available at the Indiana Courts website
2 IC §§ 34-26-6-8; 34-26-6-1
How much does it cost to file for a workplace violence restraining order?
There will be no cost as long as the petition alleges one of the following:
- violence or threatened violence against the employee;
- stalking of the employee; or
- that the abuser of has spoken in a manner that has placed the employee in reasonable fear of violence.1
1 IC § 34-26-6-14
If the abuser lives in a different state, can I still get an order against him/her?
When you and the abuser live in different states, the judge may not have “personal jurisdiction” (power) over an out-of-state abuser. This means that the court may not be able to grant an order against him/her.
There are a few ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state abuser:
- The abuser has a substantial connection to your state. Perhaps the abuser regularly travels to your state to visit you, for business, to see extended family, or the abuser lived in your state and recently fled.
- One of the acts of abuse “happened” in your state. Perhaps the abuser sends you threatening texts or harassing phone calls from another state but you read the messages or answer the calls while you are in your state. The judge could decide that the abuse “happened” to you while you were in your state. It may also be possible that the abuser was in your state when s/he abused you s/he but has since left the state.
- If you file your petition and the abuser gets served with the court petition while s/he is in your state, this is another way for the court to get jurisdiction.
However, even if none of the above apply to your situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get an order. If you file, you may be granted an order on consent or the judge may find other circumstances that allow the order to be granted.
You can read more about personal jurisdiction in our Court System Basics - Personal Jurisdiction section.
Note: If the judge in your state refuses to issue an order, you can file for an order in the courthouse in the state where the abuser lives. However, remember that you will likely need to file the petition in person and attend various court dates, which could be difficult if the abuser’s state is far away.