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Are Employers Liable for Assault Occurring in the Workplace?

Assault in the workplace is an unfortunate reality that must be confronted by employers and employees alike. It can be prevented when both sides take the proper steps to avoid conflict or address any issues before a situation escalates.

But when assault occurs in the workplace, is the employer liable? The answer is “yes” in the following circumstances:

  • Negligence by the employer contributed to the assault and the resulting injury. In this case, the employer must have known an assault was likely or at least very possible, but did not make any effort to prevent it from occurring.
  • The employer conducted him or herself in an intentional manner that played a role in the assault and resulting injury. For example, the employer could have encouraged one employee to attack another, or could have actually committed the assault.
  • The employee is entitled by law to recover damages from a parent corporation if the employer was not covered by workers’ compensation. This would most likely occur in a franchised business.

To avoid these situations, employers should take special steps to address behavior standards in company training and manuals. There should be clear expectations of behavior and clear punishments for offenders. The employer should also not shrink back from taking action should one employee clearly violate company policies.

Additionally, employers could also be held liable for sexual assault or sexual harassment. This is why companies often send their employees through regular sexual assault and risk management training — to avoid such liability issues arising.

To learn more about issues of criminal negligence and liability in the workplace, consult a knowledgeable Berks County criminal defense attorney with David R. Eshelman: A Professional Corporation.

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