Violence in the Workplace

From oversized alligators to outrageous criminals, Florida is a constant source for viral news. But while most of our state’s antics make people laugh, our first viral incident of 2019 actually raises some important questions about workplace safety.

The incident occurred in early January at a McDonald’s in St. Petersburg. A customer, who was most likely drunk, became irate when he didn’t receive a straw. While arguing with a female employee, he leaned over the counter and grabbed her by the collar of her shirt. The young woman punched the man several times before the two were separated. The incident was caught on video and the man was later arrested.

Their altercation incited conversations about Florida’s self-defense laws and if employees can be reprimanded or fired for defending themselves. But it also sparks a discussion about workers’ compensation and injuries sustained during acts of violence in the workplace.

Violence in the Workplace

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, workplace violence affects 2 million Americans. Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening or disruptive behavior that occurs at a place of employment. Based on this definition, a wide variety of issues, from verbal harassment to a shooting, all fall under workplace violence. It’s also important to note that a threat, even if not acted upon, still constitutes workplace violence.

Does it Qualify for Workers’ Compensation?

For an act of workplace violence to qualify for workers’ compensation, it must be work-related. For example, if a customer punches an employee, it would likely be work-related. On the other hand, if an employee’s ex-boyfriend came to her place of employment and assaulted her, it might not be workers’ compensation.

It’s unclear if the young woman in the McDonald’s video will take any legal steps or if she suffered any injuries from the incident, including mental injuries. Still, the video has added to the important discussion about workplace safety. It has even inspired a walk-out from Tampa Bay area McDonald’s employees as they seek better protection at work. Hopefully, this incident becomes more than just another viral Florida video and actually sparks some discussions about how to improve workplace safety.

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The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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