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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 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.


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