California Court of Appeal Holds that Courts Must Consider "All Relevant Evidence," Including Hearsay, in Deciding Whether to Issue Injunctions to Prevent Workplace Violence

Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP

On December 5, 2011, in Kaiser Foundation Hospitals v. Wilson 2011 Cal. App. LEXIS 1511 (Dec. 5, 2011), the Court of Appeal for the Fourth District, Division One, ruled that the trial court properly considered “all relevant evidence,” including generally inadmissible hearsay evidence, in deciding to issue a workplace violence injunction. As a result, employers likely will have an easier time obtaining injunctions against potential workplace violence situations in the future.

In the underlying matter, when deciding to issue an injunction banning a former Kaiser employee’s husband, Wilson, from a Kaiser facility for three years, the trial court considered all of the testimony submitted by Kaiser. Specifically, in support of its injunction petitions, Kaiser presented declarations and testimony from two employees to demonstrate that Wilson had made several credible threats of violence. In particular, the two employees alleged that they had learned from others (and did not actually hear from Wilson) that Wilson had variously threatened to “put [them] down,” “flip his lid,” “do something that he would regret,” “kill someone,” and shoot one of them. The employees did, however, testify that Wilson had made one direct threat, when he told one of the employees that, if anything happened to his wife, “you are going to pay for this.” After the trial court granted the injunction, Wilson appealed on the ground that the trial court had improperly considered the second-hand evidence during the hearing.

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