Got Hit At Work. What Do I Do?
Whether you hit someone out of self-defense or received a hit from a fellow employee, assault is a nightmare to deal with for employers and employees alike. In some cases, a boss might threaten physical harm if a deadline isn’t met. Workplace assault continues to be a problem.
What is Assault?
In Pennsylvania, assault is broken into two categories: simple assault and aggravated assault.
Simple Assault – when a person intentionally causes bodily harm to another person, whether with a weapon or not. Even using physical menace, promising to hurt them, falls into this category.
Aggravated Assault – when an individual causes serious bodily injury to someone else, especially if that person is a public servant, teacher, or official.
While aggravated assault receives most of the media attention, the majority of assault in the workplace is simple assault. Most of the time, assault is foreshadowed and not just a surprise attack. Employees of varying backgrounds and beliefs are often grouped together in a confined space every day. Workplace tension often erupts into workplace assault.
What’s My Employer’s Liability for Workplace Assault?
In some cases of assault, an employer may be liable to the victim employee for injury recovery. However, some cases won’t find the employer liable for workplace assault. Three specific scenarios guide whether or not an employer is liable for assault.
When an employer knows that assault and injury are possible but do nothing to prevent the possibility, the employer is likely liable for any subsequent workplace assault.
Employer Intentionally Encourages Assault
When an employer positions two employees against one another and assault occurs, the employer is liable for conduct that egged the situation to assault.
Employee is Entitled to Recovery
When the immediate employer does not have workers’ compensation, the employee might be entitled to recover damages from the parent corporation if that immediate employer has a parent corporation.
Employers should do everything in their power to handle office tensions before they escalate to any type of assault. Failing to deal with bullying or emotional abuse can cause employers to face lawsuits over incidents of assault.
Is My Coworker Liable for Committing Assault?
Yes, in some situations, your coworker may very well be liable for hitting or assaulting someone at the workplace. A coworker is liable for assault when the employer had no clues to the employee’s likelihood to be violent and the employer does not tolerate such conduct in the workplace. Furthermore, if the assault was not job-related, the coworker is liable for those actions. When liable for assault, an employee can be charged with the crime of assault and be sued by the victim for financial damages.
What’s The Most Common Type of Assault for Lawsuits?
Search any internet browser for lawsuits against assault, and sexual assault rises to the top every time. In most cases, a sexual assault case is a slam dunk. But, when you are hit at work, a variety of questions must be asked to figure out whether or not a winning case might be present.
- Did the hit injure you?
- Were you fired for reporting the hit?
- Was the hit motivated by the fact that you are in a protected class?
- Were you hit because of sexual assault?
An attorney knows what type of situations will offer legal recourse. Reach out to an employment lawyer to discuss the details of how you were hit or assaulted to find out whether or not you have a case.
How Can I Handle A Coworker Who Hit Me?
Being hit, slapped, punched, or any type of unwanted touching at work is not only uncomfortable but can be punishable by law. However, most of the time, an assaulted employee cannot immediately file a lawsuit. Before pursuing a lawsuit, make it clear that the hitting is not something that you want.
1. Ask Your Coworker To Stop
Whether you go with a friendlier request or a more serious one, be clear with your coworker that you do not appreciate the hitting. Ask them specifically to stop.
2. Speak With A Supervisor
If your coworker continues to hit you after you’ve clearly asked them to stop, approach your supervisor, explaining the situation and asking for assistance in handling it. After speaking in-person, follow up the conversation with an email and save a copy for yourself.
3. Report the Conduct
Grab your employee handbook and refresh yourself on the company policy for reporting such conduct. Follow the procedures explained in the book. If no process is given, report the situation to a manager or the HR department.
4. Contact a Lawyer
When you’ve done everything within your power to handle ongoing workplace assault, consult a lawyer about your legal options. Depending on the situation, a lawyer might advise filing a lawsuit.
If you have been assaulted at work, contact a workplace assault lawyer who will know how to navigate your case and your rights under the law.