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When is an Employer Liable for Employee Violence?

Employment

The court of appeal has recently ruled in two cases of employee violence where it had to be determined if the employer was in fact liable.

In the case of Weddall v Barchester Healthcare Ltd an employee assaulted his manager.  The manager had called the employee and asked if he was able to come in to work to cover a night shift.  The employee, who was drunk when he took the call, phoned back and resigned and then cycled to the workplace and assaulted his manager.

The employer was not held liable in this case.  Although the assault happened in the workplace it was not connected with the employment.

In the case of Wallbank v Wallbank Fox Designs Ltd, an employee was asked to do something while at work.  He then responded immediately by throwing his manager onto a table.

The employer was held liable in this case.  The violence was in direct response to the lawfully given instructions he had been given whilst working.

In these cases the court looked at the connection between the violence and what the employee had been asked to do.  Decisions in these kinds of cases are likely to be sensitive to the facts of each particular case.

If you are an employee or employer and need legal advice please contact us.

Jacqueline Penfold
Jacqueline Penfold
Tina Ripley
Tina Ripley