Workplace violence Legislation State laws Wholesale and retail trade

Bill would prohibit California retailers from making workers confront shoplifters

Photo: Михаил Руденко/iStockphoto

Sacramento, CA — The California Senate has approved legislation aimed at preventing workplace violence, particularly by banning employer policies that direct non-security personnel to confront shoplifters.

Sponsored by Sen. Dave Cortese (D-San Jose), S.B. 533 would also require all retail workers to be trained on how to respond to shoplifting incidents, employers to maintain a “violent incident log” of all incidents against employees – including details on post-incident investigations and response – and all non-health care employers to provide active shooter training.

Additional employer requirements in the bill include:

  • An assessment of staffing levels as a cause for workplace violence incidents, as part of an existing injury and illness prevention program.
  • Allowing an employee representative to be a petitioner for a workplace violence restraining order.
  • An evaluation of environmental risk factors, as part of a workplace violence prevention plan.
  • Referring workers to wellness centers.

According to an analysis published last year and cited by Cortese, assaults in grocery stores rose 63% from 2018 to 2020, while assaults in convenience stores rose 75%. OSHA data shows that workplace violence is the second leading cause of fatal injuries on the job.

“With growing awareness of workplace violence, California needs smarter guidelines to keep workers safe in the office or on the jobsite,” Cortese said in a press release. “Let’s take every reasonable step to prevent another workplace assault or shooting.”

The bill, passed by the Senate with a 29-8 vote on May 31, is now under consideration by the state Assembly’s Labor and Employment Committee.

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