The leading cause of worker fatalities after transportation incidents and falls, is workplace violence. A law affecting all but a few California employers comes into force on July 1, 2024 to address this issue. Existing California law requires employers in the state to implement and sustain effective injury prevention programs, including a written injury and illness prevention plan (IIPP). In a first of its kind law, the new California requirements expand security measures for employees across industries. CA Labor Code § 6401.7 and 6401.9.

The state considers workplace violence to be any act of violence or threat of violence that occurs in a place of employment. However, lawful acts of self-defense or defense of others are not considered as workplace violence.

Workplace violence includes and is not limited to the following: “(i) The threat or use of physical force against an employee that results in, or has a high likelihood of resulting in, injury, psychological trauma, or stress, regardless of whether the employee sustains an injury. (ii) An incident involving a threat or use of a firearm or other dangerous weapon, including the use of common objects as weapons, regardless of whether the employee sustains an injury.”

A threat of violence can be verbal, written, behavioral, or physical conduct that conveys or is reasonably perceived to convey an intent to cause physical harm or instill fear of physical harm, without serving any legitimate purpose. California highlights that employers should consider that threats of violence can be via messages or posts on social media, texts, emails, IMs or any other online content.

The law defines four types of workplace violence based on the perpetrator’s relationship to the workplace and outlines specific required components for the workplace violence prevention plans.

  • Type 1 violence - workplace violence committed by a person who has no legitimate business at the worksite, and includes violent acts by anyone who enters the workplace or approaches workers with the intent to commit a crime.
  • Type 2 violence - workplace violence directed at employees by customers, clients, patients, students, inmates, or visitors.
  • Type 3 violence - workplace violence against an employee by a present or former employee, supervisor, or manager.
  • Type 4 violence - workplace violence committed in the workplace by a person who does not work there, but has or is known to have had a personal relationship with an employee.

What does the law require of affected California employers?

  • The amendments to the California Labor Code require almost all employers, including contractors, in California to:
  • Create a workplace violence prevention plan specific to hazards and corrective measures for each work area and operation
  • Create and maintain a violent incident log for every workplace violence incident based on information solicited from employees who experienced the workplace violence, witness statements, and investigation findings. Multiemployer worksites should provide a copy of their own log to the controlling employer
  • Train employees when the plan is established and annually going forward
  • Provide additional training each time a new or previously unrecognized workplace violence hazard is identified or changes are made to the plan

Who will enforce this new law?

The Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) will enforce this new law and must propose standards by December 1, 2025 along with the Occupational Safety and Health Standards board, which must propose its standards by December 31, 2026.

What are the penalties for non-compliance?

This new workplace violence prevention law becomes effective on July 1, 2024 and will apply to virtually all employers in the state. Under certain circumstances, employers who fail to create and implement an effective workplace violence prevention plan or violate the provisions in the law could face a misdemeanor (CA SB 553).


California’s new workplace violence prevention law will require virtually all employers in the state to implement comprehensive plans to prevent, respond to, investigate, and correct workplace violence hazards. By adopting these new standards, California will be the leading state with expanded laws on workplace violence prevention and employee security.

For assistance in navigating the intricacies of compliance with California’s new workplace violence prevention law please contact Kelley Drye’s Labor and Employment attorneys Matthew Luzadder and Judy Juang.