Yes, unfortunately, it does happen, and it is important that you know your rights. Each school district offers its employees (except substitutes and temporary employees) various types of paid and unpaid leave. The employee’s circumstances determine the kind of leave that applies. One of the least-known types of leave is assault leave, which is designed to protect employees who have been physically assaulted on the job. Here you will find the things you should know about assault leave.
What is an assault?
Section 22.01 of the Texas Penal Code says that a person commits an assault if the person:
• Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse; or
• Intentionally or knowingly threatens another with imminent bodily harm, including the person’s spouse; or
• Intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative.
What are your rights?
• Assault leave is available to all employees who are physically injured as the result of an assault during the performance of the employee’s duties.
• Assault leave lasts up to the number of days required to recover from physical injuries, not to exceed two years from the date of assault.
• Absences are not deducted from employees’ available personal leave.
• Employees receive full pay while on assault leave (School districts will coordinate with Worker’s Compensation to ensure 100% pay).
What Do You Do If You’re Assaulted?
If you are assaulted while on the job, take the following actions:
• Notify your principal immediately.
• Immediately call UEA or your association for assistance.
• Complete an incident report as soon as possible.
• Complete an injury report—regardless of how hurt you may be. Include in the injury report all areas of pain you are experiencing and any areas that were injured or hurt, no matter how trivial. If you fail to report it, you may be barred from making a claim later.
• Consider notifying the police.
• Make notes for yourself so you can remember what happened.
• Before writing any statement regarding the incident, contact someone in the UEA office or your association for assistance and advice.
• Notify Human Resources that you have been assaulted and request placement on assault leave if you have sustained any physical injuries.
• The employee must request Assault Leave, and the District must immediately assign the employee to assault leave. If it is later determined, after investigation, that there was no assault, then the District may change the leave status and charge the leave against the employee’s accrued leave or pay.
Here’s what the Texas Commissioner of Education says:
You were assaulted by a student six months ago. At the time you took only five days of personal leave to seek treatment from injuries sustained as a result of the assault. You are now suffering a relapse that requires a significant amount of additional time off work. Are you entitled to Assault Leave benefits? The facts in the scenario above are similar to those in an actual case. The employee requested assault leave after she had resigned her position with the District. The Commissioner ruled in her favor because there was substantial evidence showing there had been an assault resulting in her injury and the statute did not limit or cut off assault leave benefits simply because the employee did not initially request assault leave or had resigned her position. However, the longer you wait to report an incident and request leave, the more chances that you CAN be denied this benefit.
Assault Leave versus Worker’s Compensation
Assault leave only applies when you have been physically assaulted and injured on the job. Worker’s Compensation applies when you have simply been injured on the job. For example, if you broke your arm in a fall while you were walking down the hall at work, you would only be entitled to benefits from Worker’s Compensation because there was not assault. It was simply an on-the-job injury.
As always, we recommend you contact your human resources department if you have any questions or to find out more specific information concerning what leave applies in your situation and how your pay status and other benefits may be affected. Then contact UEA or your association to follow up.
How UEA Can Assist
UEA has three local, full-time attorneys on staff who can assist our members with assault leave. They will work with you to answer your questions and navigate the process with your district. In this day and age, do not go it alone. Join a strong, local Association who is there with you every step of the way.