Did the employer’s negligence cause the sales assistant’s psychiatric injury? Which case won?
Male assailant posing as customer asks price of necklace
On 1 November 2015, the sales assistant was behind the counter at a jewellery shop performing her usual duties.
The jewellery shop was open to a public arcade within a shopping centre and customers could access the shop simply by walking from the arcade area into the shop area.
At approximately 2pm, a male assailant posing as a customer entered the shop and asked the sales assistant the price of a necklace in the display cabinet. The sales assistant replied that the price was $13,000.
The assailant then asked if that was the best price, prompting the sales assistant to remove the necklace from the display cabinet and scan it at a nearby cash register.
Assailant unsuccessfully attempts to snatch necklace
The sales assistant then returned and informed the assailant of the best price, being $7,900, at which point the assailant asked if he could feel the weight of the necklace.
The sales assistant asked the assailant for his driver’s licence. The assailant pretended to reach for his wallet before aggressively lunging across the counter and attempting to snatch the necklace out of her hands.
The sales assistant held onto the necklace and resisted, resulting in the chain breaking and falling to the floor and causing the shop assistant’s hand to bleed.
The assailant then ran from the store empty-handed.
Sales assistant suffers psychiatric injury following attempted robbery
The sales assistant was visibly upset immediately after the incident, with her colleagues describing her as being very shaken up and with shaking hands. She could not speak about the incident and expressed a desire to go home.
After the incident, she became nervous and anxious, experiencing panic attacks, agitation and mood swings, startling at loud noises, drinking heavily and preferring not to leave home.
As a result of the attempted robbery, the sales assistant suffered psychiatric injury, making it impossible for her to go back to working in retail.
She took legal action against her employer in the District Court of Queensland, claiming that her psychiatric injury was caused by her employer’s negligence. It was up to the court to determine if this was the case.