A Burger King restaurant manager sexually assaulted in a racially motivated attack after she arrived at work is not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled Thursday, October 23.
The state high court agreed with a lower court ruling that the manager did not sustain a compensable injury because her injuries were caused by third parties intending to injure her for personal reasons and not because of her employment. The trial court also ruled that the attack was racially motivated.
The incident occurred August 11, 2002, when two men attacked the manager while she attempted to unlock the restaurant, court records in the case of N.J.J. v. Wesfam Restaurants Inc. show. The attackers pulled her behind the Huntsville, Alabama, restaurant and sexually assaulted her while a third person acted as a lookout.
She testified during a court hearing over her eligibility for workers’ comp benefits that her attackers repeatedly made racially charged comments relating to consorting with African-Americans, court records state. She also testified that shortly before the attack she had banned the man who acted as the lookout from the restaurant for setting a napkin holder on fire.
She had never seen the two men who attacked her and, during the attack, the lookout did not mention his earlier ejection from the restaurant, court records state.