When COVID-19 arrived in full force in Los Angeles in March of 2020 and orders were issued by the Governor to limit business operations to essential businesses only, our client laid off his entire workforce. Many of his employees refused to come to work anyways and others seemed to welcome the time off receiving unemployment.
One employee, age 62, that had worked for our client for eleven and a half years was also laid off. He had worked for our client perhaps longer than anyone else and was also happy for the break.
Months later, when the virus numbers in Los Angeles County went down and businesses began opening up again, our client rehired many of the employees he had laid off. However, the one employee, age 62, was not asked back. When he was not invited back, he asked our client why he was not returned to his job and our client told him that he was overstaffed.
This now ex-employee was furious. He could not get a job anywhere else. He wrote our client over ten long, rambling and threatening e-mails explaining how our client owed him a job for all he did over the 11.5 years when he loyally worked for our client. He wrote a letter to our client’s wife.
He could not get another job, our client believed, because his ex-employee had a lengthy criminal history for use of methamphetamine and had even served a two-year prison sentence for sales of methamphetamine.
When our client ignored the ex-employee, the ex-employee only became angrier. He showed up at our client’s Playa Vista car rental lot early one morning and threw rocks over the fence at our client’s Jeep. An employee coming to work at the time witnessed this and chased away the ex-employee, even taking a video of the ex-employee as he fled the scene in his distinctive green Pontiac Solstice. Our client reported this incident to the Los Angeles Police Department, Pacific Division.
The client also trespassed into our client’s Torrance home and spray-painted graffiti on our client’s boat sitting on a trailer in our client’s driveway. Our client reported this incident to the Torrance Police.
Both incidents were preceded by a rambling, threatening e-mail from the ex-employee.
Finally, our client’s wife said she had tolerated enough. The couple had a seven-year-old boy and a two-year old daughter. The wife prepared and filed a request for a civil harassment restraining order under Penal Code § 527.6. The request was filed at the Torrance Courthouse and stated, quite honestly, that the wife and her husband were not sure if the ex-employee was responsible for the vandalism.
While the petition attempted to describe the harassment the family had suffered, the petition omitted key legal arguments and descriptions that were necessary for a judge to issue such an order. It certainly did not establish, by clear and convincing evidence, that without such an order, that harassment was certain to continue into the future.
The client and his wife then came to Greg Hill & Associates for help with their request and questions in how to proceed. Greg reviewed the request and realized that the request probably should have instead been made under Code of Civil Procedure § 527.8 by an employer against an ex-employee (using a different form), rather than under Code of Civil Procedure § 527.6 with the form that our client’s wife used.
Nonetheless, Greg believed the court would still consider the request seriously, but not without more evidence, especially the e-mails from the ex-employee and photographs of the graffiti and testimony from the witness to the rock throwing.
Greg then was retained and went to court with the client for the hearing. The judge asked the ex-employee if he wanted to file a written response to the restraining order request and if our client had additional evidence to present. Greg encouraged the ex-employee to file a written response because Greg anticipated the ex-employee would submit a rambling, anger-filled explanation of how resentful he was toward our client and what a great employee he had been over 11.5 years of employment. Greg believed the ex-employee just could not resist the temptation to inform the judge about his plight, although it was not helpful to his defense.
Greg’s expectation was accurate because the ex-employee then filed a six-page, single spaced letter to the judge in Torrance, rambling about his frustration, anger, resentment and desperation to find work after not being invited back to work.
The letter from the ex-employee to the judge was perfect evidence demonstrating a continuing threat of harassment that our client, his wife and their two young children needed, which the wife’s original request for a restraining order omitted.
The judge recognized this in the letter and the irony of how the ex-employee showed his continuing strong anger while stating he was not a threat to our client and his family. The judge read the whole letter and at the next hearing, asked the ex-employee if he was still angry at our client.
The ex-employee admitted he was. The judge also asked him if he was frustrated and resentful. The ex-employee stated he was.
Greg also had the client’s employee testify in court as to seeing the ex-employee throwing rocks at our client’s car at the business one morning.
The judge granted a five-year civil harassment restraining order, which made our client and his wife very happy.