Can I sue an employer if I am assaulted by one of their employees during working hours at one of their locations?

UPDATED: Feb 23, 2012

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Can I sue an employer if I am assaulted by one of their employees during working hours at one of their locations?

I was assaulted by an employee of a business while in the lobby of the building where they lease space during lunchtime. I was a witness in a criminal investigation against this person and they happened to start working in the same business as my bank. I was assaulted and immediately filed an incident report with the building security. I am planning to notify the employer in hopes that they will discipline and even terminate the employee. Also, should I file a police report ?

Asked on February 23, 2012 under Accident Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

1) Should you file a police report if assaulted? Definitely.

2) Can you sue the person who assaulted you (as well as potentially pressing charges)? Yes--though remember: you can only recover for your actual costs or injuries, so if  you were not badly hurt, did not have much medical costs, etc., it's most likely not worth suing.

3) Can you sue the employer? Probably not. Employers are potentially liable for the acts of their employees committed in the course of their employment; however, assault is not part of an employee's job, and an employer is not responsible for the unlawful, criminal acts of its employees, absent special circumstances, since that is not part of the person's employment.

The sort of circumstances might make an employer liable: they knew that this person had made threats against you, and they also knew that you worked in that building, but they still refused to take any steps (such as terminating, transferring, etc. the person) to avoid conflict. In circumstances like that, it's possible you could establish liability against the employer.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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