If you are being harassed at work, your employer can file for an injunction against workplace harassment (IAWH) to keep the abuser away from your workplace
What is an injunction against workplace harassment?
If you are being harassed (at work), your employer can file for an injunction against workplace harassment (IAWH) on his/her own behalf. An IAWH is a civil court order that prohibits the offender from having contact with the employer or employees, or from coming near the employer's property or place of business, which could protect you from harassment while you are at work. In cases of domestic violence, the IAWH enables your employer to get his/her own injunction against the abuser.*
* A.R.S. § 12-1810
How do I get an injunction against workplace harassment?
Your employer, or someone authorized by your employer, has to file for an IAWH. Unless you are your employer's authorized agent, you cannot petition for an IAWH on your own behalf.* To get an IAWH, your employer must show that you have been the victim of harassment and must make a “good faith” effort to tell you that s/he is seeking an IAWH.** However, even if you know your employer’s intentions, you may not have any say in whether or not your employer files for an injunction.
For the purposes of an IAWH, harassment is defined as either a single threat/act of physical harm/damage or a series of acts over a period of time that would cause a person serious alarm or annoyance. This includes defamation against an employer, unlawful picketing, trespassory assembly, unlawful mass assembly, concerted interference with lawful exercise of business activity, taking part in a secondary boycott.***
Your employer may file for an IAWH whether or not you have a protective order of your own, such as an order of protection or injunction against harassment.
To file for an IAWH, your employer can go to a justice court, municipal court or superior court in the area. Your employer will then have a hearing with a judicial officer, where the harasser will not be present (called an "ex parte hearing"). A judicial officer can issue an IAWH at this ex parte hearing if s/he finds:
- sufficient evidence of workplace harassment; or
- that great irreparable harm will result to the employer, employees or any person entering the employer’s property; or
- that the employer attempted to notify the defendant that s/he was seeking an injunction against him/her or that the employer presented reasons why the defendant should not be notified before issuing the injunction against him/her.
If the judge does not grant the injunction immediately, another hearing may be set and the defendant will have a chance to be heard before an injunction against workplace harassment may be issued.****
* A.R.S. § 12-1810(A)
** A.R.S. § 12-1810(M)
*** A.R.S. § 12-1810(S)(2)
**** A.R.S. § 12-1810(E)
How can an injunction against workplace harassment help me?
An IAWH can:
- Forbid the defendant from coming near the employer's property or place of business.
- Forbid the defendant from contacting you or the employer or other person while you are at the employer's property/ place of business or while you are performing official work duties.
- Grant any other relief necessary for the protection of the employer, the workplace, the employees (including you ) or any other person who is on or at the employer's property or place of business, or any person who is performing official work duties.*
* A.R.S. § 12-1810(F)
How long does an injunction against workplace harassment last?
An IAWH generally lasts for one year from the date your abuser is served, or receives a copy of the order.* During that year, your abuser may ask the court for a hearing to try to change the order or get it cancelled.** Your employer may also ask the court to modify (change) the order or dismiss it.***
* A.R.S. § 12-1810(I)
** A.R.S. § 12-1810(G)
*** AZCADV, Advocacy in Domestic Violence Cases; A Lay Legal Advocates’ Guide to Arizona Law (2012)
Who can report a violation of an injunction against workplace harassment - me or my employer?
Either you or your employer can call the police if your abuser violates an IAWH. Violation of an IAWH is a crime and the abuser may also be held in “contempt of court” for violating the judge’s order.*
* A.R.S. § 12-1810(H)
How is an injunction against workplace harassment different from other types of protective orders?
There are several ways in which an IAWH is different than other types of protective orders.
The plaintiff, or person who asks the court for an order, is the employer or an authorized agent of the employer. It is the employer who is petitioning the court for protection for the victim, fellow employees, and the employer's property, without the victim having to take action.
If you are a survivor of domestic violence or harassment, you may also benefit from the fact that the employer is the plaintiff in an IAWH. Your abuser may be less likely to retaliate against you, since you are not involved in obtaining the injunction.
However, the fact that the victim's cooperation is not necessary can also be harmful to you, since the employer may get an IAWH without your knowledge, and perhaps against your wishes. The law says that if the employer knows that you are the target of the harassment, the employer must make a “good faith” attempt to notify you that the employer intends to petition for an IAWH. However this does not mean that you will always be notified, or that you have to agree with the idea, before an employer may obtain an IAWH.
Unlike other orders, there are fees to file and serve an IAWH. The filing fee is $5.00, and the court also charges a service fee.* This fee can be anywhere from $25 and up depending on who serves the order and how far s/he has to travel to serve it.