Mock Training 'Robbery' Leads to Employee Lawsuit

September 15, 2009 ( - A New Jersey pharmacy technician has filed suit against her employer, charging she now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from a company robbery training exercise she was not forewarned about.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Babette Perry charged in the suit against Hampton Behavioral Health Center and its corporate parent Universal Health Services Inc., that the December 2007, mock robbery has forced her into therapy and taking medications for depression, anxiety, and panic disorder.

The lawsuit charges Hampton and Universal with assault, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

According to the Inquirer news account, a masked gunman burst into a health-center pharmacy staffed by Perry and demanded OxyContin. The man claimed he was holding another employee as hostage. Perry, 46, says she tried to call for assistance but the phone wasn’t working.

Perry contended it was not until afterwards that she discovered it was part of a safety drill organized by her employer and that the gunman and hostage were both company employees. According to the lawsuit, Perry was never told she would be subjected to such a drill and was not trained to handle such a situation

“Ms. Perry believed that the gunman was capable of shooting her or holding her hostage,” according to the lawsuit.

The Perry suit is similar to a 2006 court battle arising out of the staged fake arrest of a Southwest Airlines employee as part of new employee hazing (see Officers may be Liable for Employer’s False Arrest Prank ).