Best Ohio Employment Attorney Answer: What can I do if things get physical at the office? Is it a violation of employment laws for my boss to hit me? What if he fired me after I reported him to HR? And does it matter that I’m a woman?
Recently, I got a call from an employee who had been working as a sous chef at an Italian restaurant. His boss, the owner of the restaurant, declared my potential client’s wedding soup too salty and ordered him to throw away the entire pot and start from scratch. An argument about the merits of the soup ensued, which ended when the restaurant owner slapped the sous chef in the face and told him he’d be fired on the spot if he didn’t do as he was told.
The restaurant owner is an incredible jerk, but is he guilty of any offenses recognized by the legal system? It depends. Clearly, you can call the police and file a criminal charge. If things get physical at the office, these are some of the circumstances a lawyer will consider to determine whether you have a viable lawsuit against him.
Were you injured? At a minimum, your boss committed battery by hitting you. However, a civil lawsuit will only be viable if you can prove you have actual damages. If you were hurt, and had to receive medical treatment as a result of what happened, you should consult a personal injury lawyer as you might have a lawsuit. However, it’s highly unlikely that a personal injury lawyer would take on my sous chef’s case. His pride was hurt when he was slapped, but physically he was okay.
Did you report his conduct and, if you did, were you fired after doing so? If you complained to your supervisor, the HR department, or even the police about your boss’s conduct, and were then retaliated against for doing so, you may have a whistleblower claim. Your boss committed battery when he hit you. Battery is illegal, and whistleblower laws protect employees who object to illegal activities in their workplace. In Ohio, those laws apply if you complained in writing, and if you did so before you either quit or your boss fired you.
Did you get slapped because you are in a protected class? My sous chef was slapped for making bad soup. But if your boss is harassing you because of your age, your race, your sex, your national origin, your religion, your disability, because you were whistle blowing, or because you took an FMLA leave, then your boss might be breaking the law and you should call an employment lawyer.
Were you hurt by the slap? If you were hurt because of the slap or sought medical attention as result of the slap, you can file a Worker’s Compensation claim. At that point, your job cannot retaliate against you because you filed a Worker’s Compensation claim. This means that you cannot be fired, demoted, suspended, have your hours cut or have any other adverse action taken against you.
Were you slapped as part of a sexual assault? Obviously, if the slap was part of a broader case of sexual touching, or was a slap to your behind or other private parts, you could be looking at a sexual harassment claim.
Unwanted touching is never okay. If your boss or anyone else in your workplace subjects you to it, you should report it immediately in writing to your HR department. Consult your code of conduct, and follow any other procedures outlined therein for reporting conduct that is against company policy. As your company to investigate the incident, and to take immediate action to address the situation. Your odds of having a viable lawsuit will improve dramatically if you can show that your employer was on notice about the violent proclivities of one its employees and did nothing about and then the jerk hit you or someone else again.
If you were slapped in the face or otherwise subject to unwanted physical conduct at the hand of your boss or one of your co-workers, the best course of action you can take is to call the right attorney at (216) 291-4744 to schedule a free and confidential consultation. At the Spitz Law Firm, you will meet with an employment lawyer who will be able to tell you what your legal rights are and the best way to protect them.
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