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Assault and Battery in the Workplace
Y O U R L E G A L R I G H T S
1. What is Assault and Battery?
Assault and battery sometimes happen in the workplace when there are fights between employees and
supervisors or between two employees. Assault and battery are two separate claims that employees can
bring against their employer.
The “legal” definition of assault differs from how the word is normally used in everyday language.
According to the legal definition, assault occurs when a person demonstrates the intent to hurt you and
you believe that you will be hurt, but there is no actual contact or physical injury. For example, an
assault occurs if your co-worker raises his/her hand in a forceful manner toward you and you
reasonably believe you are about to be hit.
Battery, unlike assault, requires the actual use of force. It occurs when a person intentionally and
harmfully touches you without your consent. A person acts intentionally if their action was on purpose,
regardless of whether they actually intended to harm you with their action. So, for example, if your
manager purposely slaps you, the manager has committed battery even if he or she did not intend to
actually injure you.
2. Are there any “Defenses” to a Claim of Assault and Battery?
There are a couple of situations where something that would otherwise be assault or battery is excused
because of the circumstances.
A person may use a reasonable amount of force to protect himself or his property. So, for example, if
an employee attacked his supervisor and began hitting the supervisor, the supervisor would be justified
in using a reasonable amount of force to fend off the employee. In addition, an employer may use
reasonable force to aid a third person (another employee, for example) that is being assaulte