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Wagenmaker & Oberly provides legal counsel to NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS across the nation with offices in Chicago and Charleston.

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Protecting Against Violent Persons: The Illinois Workplace Violence Prevention Act

On his Facebook page, a recently-fired employee posts, “If revenge is sweet and a dish best served cold well, get ready …, the ice cream man is coming,” and texts a former co-worker about “beheading the boss and throwing [him] off the 19th floor. [1]”  How would your nonprofit handle such an alarming threat of violence against the organization or its employees?   Unfortunately, threats of violence in the workplace are on the rise – and nonprofits are not immune.  As employers and property owners, nonprofit organizations occasionally face the possibility of violence from disgruntled employees, participants in their activities, and others who may take offense. Recent high-profile examples come all too easily to mind, like the horrific workplace shooting in Sacramento and the Charleston church prayer meeting slaughter. 

A new legal tool is now available in Illinois to address serious threats:  the Illinois Workplace Violence Prevention Act, enacted in 2014.  In a nutshell, the Act provides for a special court restraining order – with police back-up – for churches, other religious institutions, and other organizations against persons shown to pose a “credible risk of harm” to others.  In addition to implementing general security measures and organizational policies, discussed here, nonprofits may now also proactively address specific threats against the organization or its employees through the Act, as discussed more fully below.

NONPROFIT LAW NEWSFEED

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Education or Lobbying? The ALEC-Exxon Relationship as Test Case

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