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LCW Partner Alysha Stein-Manes And Associate Jordan Carman Win Three Year Workplace Violence Restraining Order To Protect Faculty From Disgruntled Former Student
In Summer 2023, a former student began sending threatening emails to Community College District faculty members. The student had attended one of the District’s campuses until Summer 2022. While the student was enrolled at the District, a faculty member reported to the District that they were disruptive and disrespectful in her class, and it got to a point where she feared them. The District ultimately removed the student from the faculty member’s class and they complete the course as an independent study. However, even after the student was removed from the class, they would sit outside the faculty member’s classroom while she taught and make derogatory comments about her to passing students. The student subsequently transferred to a community college outside of the District.
Over a year after leaving the District, the former student began sending random, demeaning, derogatory, and threatening communications to and about the faculty member whose class they had been disruptive in. These emails included calling her a “bitch” and a “disgusting female” and were sent to the faculty member herself and to another District employee. The District conducted a threat assessment and determined that the former student posed a safety concern.
In addition to these communications, the District learned that the former student had been accepted to a four year university, but the university later rescinded their acceptance because they had reported a grade on their application that was inconsistent with their transcript. The former student reached out to a District transfer counselor for help. The transfer counselor initially attempted to help them, but it soon became clear that they could not provide further assistance. The former student became angry and sent the transfer counselor emails calling District employees “corrupt” and “ghetto-pigs” and demanded an apology for “trying to bring me down.” The former student also sent two emails threatening to “close down all Community Colleges in California.”
Campus Safety sent the former student three cease-and-desist emails on behalf of the three District employees who they had sent threatening emails to. However, the student continued sending concerning emails.
LCW assisted the District in filing a petition for a workplace violence restraining order (WVRO) to protect the faculty member and transfer counselor. In order for an employer to obtain a WVRO on behalf of an employee, the employer must prove by “clear and convincing” evidence that the respondent either engaged in unlawful violence or “made a credible threat of violence.” The “clear and convincing” standard is a higher burden than required in most civil cases, which require only that a plaintiff prove their claims by a “preponderance of the evidence” (i.e., more likely than not).
LCW attorneys prepared District employees to testify and represented the District at the WVRO hearing. Not only did LCW secure a restraining order against the former student, the Court agreed to grant the restraining order for 3 years, which is the maximum amount of time allowable under the law.
Note: LCW can help clients obtain workplace violence restraining orders to protect employees and their family members from threats of violence that occurred or could occur at work.