San Bruno YouTube HQ Shooting: Are Employers Liable For Third-Party Workplace Violence?

BY: Koszdin | Thursday, April 5, 2018.

A recent shooting at YouTube’s California campus, in which a 38-year-old female vegan activist injured three people before killing herself, is not the only workplace shooting to occur in the state in the past three years.

California workplace violence and shootings have been on the rise lately, and the San Bruno YouTube HQ shooting is the latest indication of that. But who is responsible for the injuries and damages caused to employees by a third party in the workplace? In other words, do employers have a legal duty to keep their employees safe?

These are the questions we asked our Los Angeles workplace injuries attorney from the Koszdin, Fields & Sherry law firm.

California’s unsettling history of workplace shootings

In March, a man shot dead his former spouse at her workplace in The Oaks mall in Thousand Oaks, California.

Last December, the Los Angeles Times reported that a gunman shot down one man at a law firm in Long Beach, California in his shooting spree. Another person was injured before the gunman killed himself. The police called the shooting “workplace violence.”

Perhaps the most tragic and infamous workplace shooting in recent years is the San Bernardino shooting in December 2015. The shooting was carried out by a married couple Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, who opened fire at an employee meeting at Inland Regional Center, killing 14 people and injuring more than a dozen others. The San Bernardino shooting is considered one of the deadliest shootings in U.S. history.

Clearly, it may seem as if workplaces in California are becoming less safe, and employees become the most vulnerable targets. So does your employer has a duty to prevent workplace violence?

Can an employer be held liable for workplace violence?

Our Los Angeles workplace injuries lawyer at the Koszdin, Fields & Sherry law firm explains that even though there are no federal laws regulating workplace violence prevention, other federal and state laws in California do require employers to ensure a safe environment free from hazardous and dangerous conditions for their employees.

While an employer in Los Angeles and elsewhere in California can be held responsible for his or her failure to protect employees from the injuries and damages caused by workplace violence and shootings, the Occupational Safety and Health Act makes it impossible for employees to sue their employers for injuries sustained by workplace violence.

In other words, while you can – if eligible – claim workers’ compensation benefits for your injuries sustained in workplace violence, the OSH Act prevents you from filing a civil lawsuit against the employer for his/her negligence or carelessness. However, whether or not you can sue your employer depends on the particular circumstances of your case, which is why it is advised to speak to a worker’s compensation attorney.

Suing the third party who caused the workplace shooting

In the case of workplace violence similar to the San Bruno YouTube HQ shooting, an injured employee can bring a lawsuit against the third party who committed the violent act. However, our Los Angeles workplace injuries attorney says that there is one downside of suing the third party who committed the crime or wrongful act in the workplace: they often have no financial resources to cover your injuries and damages.

There is, however, one way to file a civil lawsuit against your employer who failed to prevent workplace violence. If your employer fails to comply with the requirements of California’s workers’ compensation laws (including but not limited to ignoring your claim, failure to provide you with insurance payments in a timely manner, etc.), then you may be able to bring a civil claim against him or her.

Speak to our attorneys at the Koszdin, Fields & Sherry law firm to get a free consultation about your case. Contact our offices to obtain the compensation you deserve after workplace violence or shooting by calling at 818-812-5639 or (toll free) 800-747-3447 or complete this contact form.

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