Can I sue for getting verbally assaulted while working?

by Tiara
(San Francisco, CA)

I work at a fitness gym where there is a member who has came in and verbally assaulted me on 4 different occasions. I notified my manager at the time of the first event, to which she said she'd talk to the member about it. I also sent an email to her a few weeks later regarding the same member in a separate event.

I let my employers know that he was making me uncomfortable, yet nothing was done about the verbal assaults until the 4th time, when I had to call security because he was cussing me out and calling me a "Disgusting b****" in front of other members.

Finally, they suspended the member's account, but shortly after I was notified that they would be re-instating his membership at another location. Because of this, I quit my job in order to avoid encountering the member. I am uncomfortable with this decision, as 3 of my sisters work at 2 of our other locations and I don't want the same thing to happen to them.

Do I have a legit case against my former employers due to their negligence regarding this member? Can I do anything legally to protect my sisters who may encounter this member? It is noted in our membership contract that such behavior would result in immediate termination.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Can I sue for getting verbally assaulted while working?":

Tiara (San Francisco, CA):

The member is obviously a person who has his or her own serious personal issues...and that’s being kind. Unfortunately, unless the member threatens you with "serious bodily injury," you have no legal recourse against the member.

You have a right to work in a safe work environment. Whether or not the fitness center where you work provides a safe work environment depends on whether the manager or owner knows, or should know, there exists a threat to one of its employees (you or your sisters) and does nothing about it.

But that, in and of itself, would not be sufficient grounds for a negligence claim against your employer. To have the basis of a negligence claim would require the peculiar member to have physically assaulted you.

The next obvious question is why would you have to wait for the member to assault you. That’s because without the member making a clear threat to injure you and then carrying out that threat, the basis of negligence is not fully established. You and your sisters would be best served by seeking employment at another fitness center.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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