If I was attacked at my job by a co-worker, what action can I take against my former employer for not providing a safe work environment?

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If I was attacked at my job by a co-worker, what action can I take against my former employer for not providing a safe work environment?

I was talking with a co-worker at work when another co-worker approached me and I assumed thought I was talking about him. He began yelling profanity at me and charged me forcefully with 2 fists in the chest. I was caught off guard and flew back onto the concrete injuring my elbow and slamming the back of my head. I reported the incident to management and asked to be employed in a safe work environment. A few days after being placed on leave, he and I were both fired. I filed a warrant for harassment and I am now under the care of a doctor because since slamming my head, my vision goes blurry at times. What actions should I take? HR has documents of passed aggressiveness.

Asked on July 2, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Alabama

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Normally, an employer is not liable, or responsible for, the criminal actions of an employee since criminal acts are, by definition, outside the scope of employment (what the employee was hired to do) and employers are only responsible for what their staff does in the course or furtherance of their jobs. However, you write that there was documented past aggression by this employee. If the employer knew that an employer presented a danger, but even knowing of that, did not take some action to protect others (like firing the dangerous employee), then the employer may be liable due to its negligence, or carelessness. If there as documented past aggression, it would be worthwhile for you to speak with a personal injury attorney in detail about the situation (note: many provide a free initial consultation, and you can inquire into this before making the appointment) to evaluate whether you have a case, what it might be worth, etc. Good luck.


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