I work for a discount store and was assaulted at work by a customer...

by Christine
(West Bridgewater, Massachusetts)

I work for national chain discount store in Brockton, Massachusetts and was assaulted by a customer on Thursday, July 25, 2013. I was taken to the hospital by ambulance and was told I have a fractured nose, mild concussion, and some other ailments.

I did work my shift on Friday and Saturday because our store is shorthanded and our district manager was unable to find coverage. However, I have not worked since due to headaches and other symptoms.

The doctor from my hospital visit has instructed me to return for a follow up examination. I am doing so tonight, Thursday, August 1, 2013. I was told by my district manager that any work I missed would have to be made up in the following weeks.

He has put me on the schedule for Friday and Saturday and expects me to work a double shift. He also has me scheduled for double shifts next week.

I would like to know my rights as an employee and as an individual. Can they force me to work? What responsibility do they have for my assault and injuries? I am in the process of finding a lawyer for additional information as I want to be protected from any misconduct from my employer. Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "I work for a discount store and was assaulted at work by a customer...":

Christine (West Bridgewater, Massachusetts):

Massachusetts is an "at-will" employment state. This means absent a written employment contract, or legitimate expectation of continued employment, your employer has a right to terminate your employment for just about any reason.

The corporate owners probably aren't liable for your injuries and resulting damages. Unless they knew the customer who assaulted you had violent propensities and, knowing that, permitted the customer to enter the store, the store probably won't be liable. Under the circumstances it doesn't appear you have the basis for any civil action against your employer.

You certainly have a strong criminal and civil action against the customer who assaulted you. Hopefully the customer was arrested. If so, be sure to get a copy of the police report. One should be available at the police station for a nominal fee of under ten dollars.

Speak with an attorney. If the customer has sufficient personal assets, you may be able to sue her for your damages.

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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