COA upholds workplace restraining order

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The Indiana Court of Appeals today analyzed for the first time the legal parameters required to affirm an order issued to protect a person under the Workplace Violence Restraining Order Act. The appellate court turned to the Indiana Civil Protection Order Act to provide context for analyzing cases under the WVROA.

In Teresa Torres v. Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, No. 49A04-0812-CV-719, the Family and Social Services Administration petitioned for a workplace violence restraining order against Teresa Torres on behalf of employee Carol Baker as a result of Torres' outburst during an Indiana Council on Independent Living meeting. Baker serves as assistant director of the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, provides administrative support to ICOIL, and is required to attend ICOIL meetings. Torres, director of an independent living center in Northwestern Indiana, has attended ICOIL meetings since the 1990s and was appointed an ICOIL member in 2005 by Gov. Mitch Daniels. She uses an assisted-listening device during the meetings because she has a moderate hearing loss.

Torres has a history of loud outbursts during these meetings; she has also overturned a chair. As a result of her behavior, Capitol Police have had to intervene.

At a meeting in April 2008, Torres' listening device wasn't working, and she became angry. She threw it at the table where ICOIL members were seated; she paced around the room with clenched fists and screamed that she hoped everyone died. She eventually charged at Baker and screamed at her, but she never physically touched her. Capitol Police were called to the meeting.

FSSA filed the petition for restraining order against Torres because Baker was concerned about her safety because she was required to attend the meetings; she feared Torres may harm her while following her to work or to her home. The trial court granted the restraining order, which is set to expire Aug. 1, 2009.

The WVROA allows an employer to seek a temporary restraining order on behalf of an employee if the employee has suffered unlawful violence or a credible threat of violence from the person and the unlawful violence happened at the employee's place of work.

Turning to the Indiana Civil Protection Order Act, the appellate court used this act to analyze the legal parameters required to affirm an order that is issued in favor of a protected person under the WVROA.

Torres argued the restraining order should be set aside because there was no evidence showing her actions would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress and caused the victim emotional distress. However, the evidence shows one ICOIL member left the meeting during the outburst because she felt unsafe, wrote Chief Judge John Baker. Capitol Police have been called numerous times because of Torres' behavior. It was reasonable for the trial court to conclude a reasonable person attending the meeting would have suffered emotional distress because of Torres' actions.

In addition, Baker did suffer emotional distress - she couldn't eat before the meetings, feared Torres' unpredictable behavior, and felt drained after the meetings. She also worried Torres' may follow her to her office or home.

"In our view, the purpose of the WVRA, CPOA, and the relevant criminal laws, is to prohibit actions and behavior that cross the lines of civility and safety in the workplace, at home, and in the community. As a result, we can only conclude that the FSSA proved that Torres engaged in unlawful credible threats of violence against Baker," wrote the chief judge in affirming the trial court.


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  1. Especially I would like to see all the republican voting patriotic good ole boys to stop and understand that the wars they have been volunteering for all along (especially the past decade at least) have not been for God & Jesus etc no far from it unless you think George Washington's face on the US dollar is god (and we know many do). When I saw the movie about Chris Kyle, I thought wow how many Hoosiers are just like this guy, out there taking orders to do the nasty on the designated bad guys, sometimes bleeding and dying, sometimes just serving and coming home to defend a system that really just views them as reliable cannon fodder. Maybe if the Christians of the red states would stop volunteering for the imperial legions and begin collecting welfare instead of working their butts off, there would be a change in attitude from the haughty professorial overlords that tell us when democracy is allowed and when it isn't. To come home from guarding the borders of the sandbox just to hear if they want the government to protect this country's borders then they are racists and bigots. Well maybe the professorial overlords should gird their own loins for war and fight their own battles in the sandbox. We can see what kind of system this really is from lawsuits like this and we can understand who it really serves. NOT US.... I mean what are all you Hoosiers waving the flag for, the right of the president to start wars of aggression to benefit the Saudis, the right of gay marriage, the right for illegal immigrants to invade our country, and the right of the ACLU to sue over displays of Baby Jesus? The right of the 1 percenters to get richer, the right of zombie banks to use taxpayer money to stay out of bankruptcy? The right of Congress to start a pissing match that could end in WWIII in Ukraine? None of that crud benefits us. We should be like the Amish. You don't have to go far from this farcical lawsuit to find the wise ones, they're in the buggies in the streets not far away....

  2. Moreover, we all know that the well heeled ACLU has a litigation strategy of outspending their adversaries. And, with the help of the legal system well trained in secularism, on top of the genuinely and admittedly secular 1st amendment, they have the strategic high ground. Maybe Christians should begin like the Amish to withdraw their services from the state and the public and become themselves a "people who shall dwell alone" and foster their own kind and let the other individuals and money interests fight it out endlessly in court. I mean, if "the people" don't see how little the state serves their interests, putting Mammon first at nearly every turn, then maybe it is time they wake up and smell the coffee. Maybe all the displays of religiosity by American poohbahs on down the decades have been a mask of piety that concealed their own materialistic inclinations. I know a lot of patriotic Christians don't like that notion but I entertain it more and more all the time.

  3. If I were a judge (and I am not just a humble citizen) I would be inclined to make a finding that there was no real controversy and dismiss them. Do we allow a lawsuit every time someone's feelings are hurt now? It's preposterous. The 1st amendment has become a sword in the hands of those who actually want to suppress religious liberty according to their own backers' conception of how it will serve their own private interests. The state has a duty of impartiality to all citizens to spend its judicial resources wisely and flush these idiotic suits over Nativity Scenes down the toilet where they belong... however as Christians we should welcome them as they are the very sort of persecution that separates the sheep from the wolves.

  4. What about the single mothers trying to protect their children from mentally abusive grandparents who hide who they truly are behind mounds and years of medication and have mentally abused their own children to the point of one being in jail and the other was on drugs. What about trying to keep those children from being subjected to the same abuse they were as a child? I can understand in the instance about the parent losing their right and the grandparent having raised the child previously! But not all circumstances grant this being OKAY! some of us parents are trying to protect our children and yes it is our God given right to make those decisions for our children as adults!! This is not just black and white and I will fight every ounce of this to get denied

  5. Mr Smith the theory of Christian persecution in Indiana has been run by the Indiana Supreme Court and soundly rejected there is no such thing according to those who rule over us. it is a thought crime to think otherwise.