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I just encountered a fast food chain worker here in Colorado who had to leave work following an incident with her manager.
She'd been going to work with a sore shoulder (unclear as to whether this was a substantive injury to the shoulder sustained at work). While at work, the manager "lightly" punched the employee in the shoulder. Apparently, it isn't out of the ordinary for the manager to do so, it's often perceived as "playful," and it's often reciprocated. The action was enough to aggravate the shoulder, and the employee was not able to quickly perform the work she had been doing. Upon seeing the slowdown of her work, the manager shouted for her to "leave, and come back when you feel like working."
The preceding happened at work in full view of two other managers and several employees, all of whom were aware of the problem with her shoulder and did not take action to defuse the situation. The employee in question is a shade above 5' tall and meek and non-confrontational to a fault, while the manager is a former soldier half again the employee's body size, and is well known for an authoritarian management style. The employee is now at home, and afraid to address the manager's superior.
Obviously the perception of hostility is not sufficient for a case, but I'm writing this to inquire as to what laws, if any, appear to have been violated. "Assault" was the first word to come to my mind, but I did not witness the incident (only the aftermath), and have not been able to speak to witnesses. Specifically, I would like to know in what way the employer could be held liable before convincing the employee to complain, possibly jeopardizing a job she needs to make ends meet.