Visitor Question

Is my employer responsible for another employee throwing boiling sauce on me?

Submitted By: Michelle (Conowingo, Maryland)

I am a manager in a pizza restaurant. I was asking an employee a question on why they did not do a certain job and she got angry and threw a plate of boiling hot pasta /spaghetti sauce on to me. The only thing that got severely burned is my ankles because I had capris on.

I have a very large blister and a couple small burns. I have not gotten medical attention yet because I don’t really think it requires that.

The more I’m talking to people they’re saying that what she did was assault and I should definitely look into doing something about it.

Is it my employer’s responsibility or hers? Thanks for the information.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Michelle ,

Thank you for the great question. You have two possible options in this case. The first is to file a workers’ compensation claim. The second is to file an assault complaint against the employee.

Workers’ Compensation Claim

Injured workers are entitled to workers’ compensation coverage for certain instances of workplace violence. One is when a worker harms or attacks another worker while the employees are on the job.

In your case, the throwing of boiling pasta sauce is considered a violent act. Further, the employee threw the boiling sauce while you were both on the job. These facts mean that you can file a workers’ comp claim with your state.

In Maryland, the Workers’ Compensation Commission is the agency responsible for receiving these claims.

A difficulty you may have, though, is proving that the act damaged you.

Workers’ comp benefits cover payment of:

  • Medical and therapy bills
  • Out-of-pocket expenses and
  • Lost wages during treatment and recovery of any injury

Granted, you have a couple of small burns and a blister. However, since you have not received medical attention, you have not incurred any reimbursable medical costs or out-of-pocket costs related to the incident. If you did not miss work time because of the incident, you won’t have a lost wages claim.

It’s crucial that you visit a doctor so you know the full extent of your injuries. Once you do, you can file a claim to receive compensation.

Assault Complaint

The second option you have is to go to your local police department and file an assault charge against the employee.

According to Maryland law, the crime of assault is when a person makes, or attempts to make, offensive physical contact with another. It’s not a requirement under the law that any contact or attempted contact actually injured the victim.

Here, the actions of the worker may qualify as assault. Throwing hot liquids sounds like offensive physical contact.

Maryland has two types of assault – first degree and second degree. The assault in this case is second-degree assault. The penalties for the offense include up to ten years in jail or prison, a fine of up to $2,500, or both.

Also, a court may order your attacker to pay restitution. Restitution means that the employee has to pay you for your injuries.

Third-Party Complaint

There are times when a worker can sue an employer for injuries caused by another employee. These lawsuits are known as third-party suits.

Employers have a legal duty of care to protect their employees from undue harm and physical injury in the workplace. Their responsibility includes taking reasonable actions to keep people with a known history of aggressive behavior off the premises and away from workers.

When your employer doesn’t take reasonable actions to protect you from workplace violence, and you are injured, you may have the right to file a third-party lawsuit.

But while the worker here committed an assault, it doesn’t appear that the employee had a history of workplace violence. This fact means that your employer likely upheld its duty to protect you.

Learn more here: Assaults and Workplace Violence

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,

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