What are my rights if I had to quit my job due to health problems?

I worked at a cigarette shop for 5 years and was a smoker. A couple of weeks ago I was admitted to the hospital with chest pains to find out I had 80% blockage for which a stint was placed. I was told to quit smoking and avoid second hand smoke if at all possible. I spoke with my boss upon returning to work about a possible no smoking store in which he said no. I spoke about the ventilation in which there is none and got no response. I told him I couldn’t work in these conditions so I gave my 2 weeks notice, which he accepted. I don’t feel I should have had to do that, what can I do?

Asked on November 27, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Louisiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You most likely  have no cause of action:

1) You say you were a smoker and your condition therefore presumbly arose because  you smoked. The store is not responsible for your own health-related actions.

2) It is a cigarrette shop--there will be smoke in it. You can't sue or take other action against a cigarrette shop for having smoke any more than you could take action against a pet store for having cat dander or a florist shop for having pollen. Someone sensitive to these things should work on those places, but the store did nothing wrong--that is just its nature, and not every person should work in every position or location. (E.g. a claustrophe should not be a sewer or subway worker.)

You may be making the right decision for yourself, but the store does not have make extensive changes or modifications to suit you, because you personally should not work in that location.


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