What can I do if someone pulled a gun on me? What is my employer supposed to do?
We recently had a reader reach out with a question. We were unable to contact her to answer her question for her so we are going to post our answer here on the blog, anonymously and with the important details changed.
My son, who works at a gas station, was robbed at gunpoint. His employer didn’t go to his aid and didn’t give him time off afterward. His boss still hasn’t give him time off to process what’s happened. My son wasn’t physically harmed, but since then he’s been going through the motions – he was scared to death! A hospital counselor talked to him, but that didn’t help.
There’s a lot to unpack here. Employees at stores, gas stations, kiosks and other vendors are often the victims of crime. It doesn’t matter what type of crime it is or what level of offense it’s considered – it makes it no less traumatizing for the employee.
People use those words interchangeably, but they do mean very different things. Let’s take a look at the definitions for each so we can figure out what happened in the above scenario.
Theft: Theft is when a criminal steals and nobody is present or not in imminent fear of bodily harm (for example, pickpocketing or someone stealing a shirt from a store).
Robbery: This, on the other hand, is when the criminal puts the person in imminent fear of serious bodily harm or death. This is a felony crime no matter where in the United States you are. This is the difference between someone sneaking into a store and stealing something with nobody noticing (theft) and the criminal in the above scenario barging in with a gun and holding up the store (robbery). Because the letter writer’s son was in fear of his life, it qualifies as a robbery.
Burglary: To commit a burglary, you must enter a structure with the intent to commit a crime therein. This is where you get the phrase “breaking and entering.” However, the breaking doesn’t need to be “breaking” – you could lift a door latch. “Entering” could be just a foot inside the house, like you’re playing the Hokey Pokey. And the crime could be anything, not just theft or robbery.
Now let’s talk about what the employer’s duties were during this scenario. This was obviously a robbery, but unfortunately, you can’t expect your son’s store to be the one store in America that’s figured out crime prevention.
However, your son’s boss did have a duty to mitigate the chance of being targeted as the new Robberies R’ Us. If he failed to do this, your son could possibly file a third-party negligence claim against his employer. This also applies if he works in a high-crime area. The higher the chance of crime, the higher the level of his boss’ responsibility.
Otherwise, he would only be able to claim workers’ compensation benefits for medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses and lost wages. He would not be able to recover for non-economic damages like pain and suffering.
It sounds like your son is definitely suffering emotional distress, and I am sorry for that.
Many psychological traumas occur after an incident like this, and posttraumatic symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, depression and grief are frequent. Mental injuries can be even more crippling than physical injuries, but proving them can be difficult.
Have your son speak with his doctors, have him catalog his symptoms (including psychical symptoms, which can be symptoms of depression), and have him keep track of medications and foods. This is all important information that your son’s attorney will need.
And yes, he does need an attorney. At the very least, have him review the fact pattern with a qualified attorney and ask if there is a viable third party claim against the employer. Try looking through the Enjuris directory if you need more help!
Thank you for reaching out. We hope that your son feels better and is able to put this behind him soon.
Do you have a question about a possible case, too? Tell us your story, too.
Yaleska cartagena says
Me who works at a gas station, was robbed at gunpoint. Her employer didn’t go to her aid and didn’t give her time off afterward. Her boss still hasn’t give her time off to process what’s happened. To me wasn’t physically harmed, but since then she”s been going through the motions –she was scared to death! A hospital counselor talked to her, but that didn’t help.
Nancy Rapp says
Hello Yaleska. I’m sorry to hear what happened. We encourage that employee to pursue the emotional help she needs and to ask her employer to consider her emotional state.
Im curious about this situation and being a door to door sales woman….I get hitbon a lot and that doesnt bother me, but what if I was assaulted or worse on the job while going door to door for a company.
Ian Pisarcik says
Thanks for the question.
If you were injured while on the job as a door-to-door salesperson, you would be able to file a workers’ compensation claim to receive compensation. In addition, you would be able to file a third-party lawsuit against the person who injured you.
Eva Winters says
My grandson is pizza delivery. Biss forced him to deliver to known bad area. He was beat up and robbed at gunpoint. Boss insisted he come back for more deliveries. He is a basket case. After police reports and all, he’s afraid to return. Can he sue his boss for not protecting him?
Melissa Gold says
Hello, Eva. I am so sorry to hear about what happened to your grandson. Yes, the boss might have some responsibility if he sent your grandson to a place where he knew there is a high likelihood of a violent or dangerous event. If your grandson was physically injured on the job, his employer’s workers’ compensation insurance should cover his physical injuries. Workers’ compensation would cover medical treatment, lost wages during recovery time, and other related expenses. Most employees, even part-time, are covered by workers’ compensation in most states.
You might also wish to seek the counsel of a personal injury lawyer, especially if your son is suffering from emotional trauma related to the event. You can find a personal injury lawyer who can help in the Enjuris lawyer directory. I hope your grandson is recovering and all is well.
I live in wa state and was recently told by my boss that if I was robbed during my shift that I’m not supposed to give the robber the money, I’m supposed to push the panic button and slam the window shut and hide. If I was to give the robber the money the money lost during my shift will be taken out of my paycheck is the legal?
Melissa Gold says
Hello, Alice. You should not be penalized if you’re the victim of a crime. Sometimes, a person doesn’t think clearly when faced with an immediate violent crime, and you’re probably (rightfully) going to instinctually react in a way that you perceive as presenting the least risk of harm to yourself at the time. Your boss has a responsibility to take reasonable precautions to protect employees from harm. If you’re not able to follow his procedure and a burglar is able to get away with money or merchandise, that shouldn’t be your fault because you didn’t commit the crime. If that happens, you can consult an attorney who’s able to advise.
We are travelling by staff vehicle since the Covid 19 lockdown in South Africa (A temporary arrangement)
unfortunately we were robbed at gun point all our personal belonging on our way to work inside the van.
We then went to the police station to report the matter, we received more stress( discussion for other time)
We then went to discuss the matter to the employer who provided group counselling because we were 6 who experience this ordeal. we attended the sessions two times and nothing else was discussed. we were given 2 days to distress
We lost a lot in monitory value. (Cell phone, bags and more)
My question is does the employer pay us for our lost goods?
if yes how do we go about approaching them.
Melissa Gold says
Hello, Tamara. I’m sorry that happened to you. I am not familiar with what the laws are in South Africa for this situation. You should probably contact a lawyer familiar with the laws where the incident occurred and based on the country where your employer does business. I hope you’re able to fully recover. Best of luck!
Michael Scott says
I was robbed at gunpoint and assaulted at e z mart in nash texas and nothing was done by employers afterwards and things in my head were getting worse and when i brought it up i was fired on my day off.
Ian Pisarcik says
I’m so sorry this happened to you.
You may be able to receive compensation by filing a workers’ compensation claim. You may also, depending in the circumstances, be able to file a wrongful termination lawsuit. I would recommend meeting with an attorney in your area. Initial consultations are generally free and the attorney can give you a good idea as to what options you have.
I got robbed in a retail store at gunpoint worse part I work in that shop. MY QUESTION IS WHAT ACTION DO I TAKE AGAINST THE STORE TO GET COMPENSATED OF WHAT I GOT ROBBED?
Ian Pisarcik says
I’m sorry this happened to you.
You can, of course, file a civil lawsuit against the person who robbed you at gunpoint.
The store might be liable if they failed to take reasonable safety precautions (such as installing safety cameras). If the property stolen was significant, I would recommend talking to an attorney in your area.
So I was robbed at gunpoint at my job while I had my child (7years old) up there with me. My boss said it was okay to have her with me there. It was just me and my kid. My boss said to take a few days and they are offering me to come back. To a different location or something. I have been with the company for a months and I’m always alone. I feel like this could have been prevented if they would have had better management and better work environment and also I know i volunteered to have my kid at work but I didn’t think they would actually let me have her up there so when I did it was not an easy task having her there. This man came in and he had me and my child at gunpoint and it was terrifying. I personally don’t think I want to go back to that job but I’m also not in the position to just stop working I am wondering if I can put a lawsuit in for compensation. My daughter and I are so scared and I don’t know if I should work there anymore a. I would at least like a pay raise and some security because this store I work at is not in a great area. I don’t feel safe at my work place anymore and I also can not make the commute to any other location so now I’m in a very hard place mentally and financially. What can I do??
Mandi Hanson says
I was robbed while working the front desk at a hotel. He forced me into the back and took money from our safe and bank. He threatened me with a gun; however I never actually seen one. On the way out, he also took my purse. All of this is on camera. In my purse was 800$. I don’t normally carry that much cash, but I have proof and reason of why I had it on me. The owners said they were not going to pay me back. Isn’t their insurance company liable for this? Or how can I get reimbursed this money that was taken from me?
Ian Pisarcik says
I’m sorry this happened to you. You can certainly file a civil lawsuit against the person who robbed you. In addition, you may be able to recover damages from your employer. However, you’ll need to prove that your employer failed to take reasonable steps to protect your safety. What’s more, depending on the nature of the situation, you may be able to recover damages by filing a workers’ compensation claim.
I would recommend seeking compensation from your employer. If your employer is unwilling to compensate you, you might consider filing a claim in small claims court.