Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Assault By Supervisor - Workers Comp Bar Applies; Company Not Liable For Intentional Tort

An employee who returned late from work was struck with a steel pipe by his supervisor. (Not a recommended practice to cure tardiness.) The supervisor ultimately pled no contest to a criminal assault charge. The employee sued the company under a negligence theory and also for the intentional tort of the supervisor. The court held that the 3rd party personal animosity exception did not apply, since the assualt resulted solely from a work related incident. Thus workers comp barred all claims founded in negligence. When the employee countered that the employer was liable for the supervisor's intentional tort, the court rejected that claim as well. Only if the supervisor were the equivalent of the alter ego would liability be proper. Here there was no such finding, so no liability. The final shot was a retaliation claim brought under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act. The only alleged protected activity was filing this suit, which had no relationship to the protected categories outlined in the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act. With no connections on three tries, the struck employee, effectively struck out. Urdiales v. Concord Technologies Delaware, Inc. (Tex. App. - Houston [14th Dist.] 9/30/03).

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