A Brisbane optometry practice that employed a female optical technician, who was assaulted while at work, has not been found liable for the customer’s criminal act.
The woman was sexually assaulted by a 70 year old man while working alone in the workroom and, as a result suffered post traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.
The Brisbane Optometry practice was initially found liable for the customer’s criminal act – the Supreme Court found that the practice had a duty to protect its staff and should have installed a lockable door or an infrared beam to alert staff of any intrusion. As a result of the decision, the woman was awarded almost AUD$400,000 on top of statutory benefits received of just under AUD$110,000.
WorkCover Queensland appealed against the decision and in a unanimous decision by the Court of Appeal, delivered in April, the judgment of the Supreme Court was set aside. The woman was ordered to pay court costs.
Workcover Queensland has reminded small businesses and retailers to check that they are adequately covered by insurance against the possibility of fighting legal action
The protracted case has been held up as a warning flag for optometrists and small retailers alike. Greg Johnson, President of the Optometrists Association (Northern Territory and Queensland) said it was prudent for all optometrists to examine occupational health and safety issues in their businesses.
Workcover Queensland has reminded small businesses and retailers to check that they are adequately covered by insurance against the possibility of fighting legal action.