Real life case study of a hotel employee claiming compensation for sexual assault at work
For guidance on claiming compensation for sexual assault at work call our free legal helpline on 0808 139 1597 or send an email to us in confidence at firstname.lastname@example.org
Claims for sexual assault at work can be made against an employer where they have failed to take reasonable precautions to ensure members of staff are safe. We can assist with claiming compensation for sexual assault at work where the perpetrator of the assault was a co-worker, a customer or another third party. The following case study, involving a female hotel worker who was assaulted by a hotel guest, illustrates the issues that can arise in these cases and how we are able to help.
Miss A (for confidentiality reasons we have not given her name) had began a new job working as a receptionist at a Premier Inn hotel. She received some on the job training which involved shadowing a more experienced receptionist to show her the ropes.
On her first shift alone, she was asked by a male hotel guest to bring some additional towels to his room. She attended his room and knocked on the door, but received no answer. The door was propped open and as she went to place the towels on the floor just inside the door the guest leapt out of the bathroom completely naked. Miss A was extremely shocked and quickly returned to reception. The guest visited reception afterwards and apologised for what had happened, leading Miss A to believe it had been an innocent mistake. Later that evening, she received a telephone call from the same male guest who asked for more tea and coffee to be brought to his room. Miss A was nervous doing this following the previous incident, but as she was new to her role she was worried she may receive a complaint if she did not do as she was asked.
When she arrived at the room with the tea and coffee the guest opened the door and asked Miss A to put the items on the shelf just inside. As she did so, the guest shut the door, trapping her inside the room. He stood between Miss A and the door, so she could not escape. He then proceeded to remove his boxer shorts and committed an indecent act. He attempted to grope Miss A and tried pulling up her skirt. Eventually, she was able to escape and run from the room. She was in shock and was not able to report the incident at first.
Miss A contacted her manager asking to meet with him the following morning. At this meeting, she disclosed the assault. Her manager told her he felt guilty, as he was aware there had been a previous incident involving the same hotel guest a couple of nights previously with another receptionist. Although that receptionist had reported the incident to him he failed to take action.
Miss A struggled with her mental health following the assault. The Police were informed, and an investigation followed. As the guest pleaded ‘not guilty’, Miss A was forced to give evidence at the criminal trial which she found distressing. The jury found the guest guilty. He was given a custodial sentence and ordered to sign the Sex Offenders register.
Miss A was unable to continue working for Premier Inn as she found it too distressing and could not return to work for some time. She suffered a loss of earnings. Her mental health deteriorated, and she required input from mental health services.
When she felt well enough to secure alternative employment she contacted us about claiming compensation for sexual assault at work.
We advised her that whilst the hotel could not be held responsible for the conduct of a guest, because the hotel was aware of this guest’s inappropriate sexual behaviour from the previous incident it had breached its duty of care by failing to respond appropriately and allowing our client to be placed in danger.
Abuse lawyer Rachel Thain agreed to help Miss A on a no win, no fee basis. Evidence was obtained, including Miss A’s police statement and the Indictment which confirmed the three charges brought against the guest.
Premier Inn denied legal responsibility, arguing that Miss A had failed to follow her training when entering the room and the other receptionist was under no duty to report the previous incident.
Of course, Rachel pointed out that the other receptionist had reported the incident to the hotel manager who was then under a duty to take action becuase he knew the guest posed a risk to staff. However, Premier Inn maintained their denial of liability. Rachel therefore commenced court proceedings and continued to fight on Miss A’s behalf. Key documents were then disclosed to us which further highlighted Miss A’s consistent reports that her manager was aware of a previous incident with the guest.
Premier Inn obtained a transcript of the criminal trial and a copy was provided to Rachel. On close examination, this revealed some significant inconsistencies between the accounts given in witness statements served by Premier Inn and the evidence given at the criminal trial. Rachel raised her concerns and this resulted in a settlement offer being made.
We advised Miss A to reject the offer. Negotiations followed, and Rachel was able to secure an increased offer leading to settlement of the claim for a five figure sum, without Miss A having to attend a further court.
This was a claim that required careful examination of the evidence in order to identify weaknesses in the employer’s case. With Premier Inn maintaining a denial of liability throughout, Rachel remained committed to fighting for a just outcome for her client and succeeded in recovering compensation.