Workplace Assaults and the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP)

by Lenin V. Perez

Workplace assaults may or may not be compensable under the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP). In general, an assault that occurs while the federal employee is on duty and which arises out of employment is compensable. For example, if a clerk, while working the counter, is injured during a robbery, or if an employee is injured on the workroom floor during an assault by a co-worker arising from an argument about work, the injuries are covered under federal workers compensation.

If, however, a federal worker is injured by another employee over a personal matter that is clearly unrelated to work, the injury is not compensable. (Note that an injury caused by an assault arising out of a personal matter may be compensable if it is shown that the personal matter was aggravated in some way by the work situation.) An employee is covered even if off premises and outside of work hours if injured in an assault committed by a coworker motivated by work issues.

If an injury results from an assault by a co-worker because of a dispute about leaving dollies in front of trucks, the injury is covered as arising out of employment. An assault, to be compensable, must arise in the course of employment, or must be directed at the employee because of his employment. When it is clear that the reason for the assault is purely personal, and that employment did not engender or aggravate the quarrel or facilitate the assault, an injury from the assault is not covered.

The injured federal employee should file a CA-1 for injury incurred as a result of an assault. To win the claim, the employee must write a detailed employee statement describing specific work duties, how the assault took place, and how the assault caused the specific injury for which compensation is being claimed. The factual information concerning the assault should be complete and detailed, and should include the injured employee’s description of the assault, statements of any witnesses of the assault, and any police report on the assault.

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