Can I sue my boyfriend’s workplace for his death?

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Can I sue my boyfriend’s workplace for his death?

My boyfriend had chest pains for a few days and on his last day alive he had a fever and bad chest pains and wanted to see a doctor or go to the ER. no one could cover his shift and he told his manager about what was going on. His manager said he had to stay on anyways. He’s a bartender. It ended up being a really busy and extremely stressful night. When I picked him up he told me about his night and how he wasn’t aloud to leave and the manager that night did nothing to help him to make it a less stressful night while he worked while being ill. Fast forward to 30 minutes later, he had a heart attack and died in front of me before the ambulance came. His managers made him work while being sick and did nothing to help while he was sick. I do think their negligence and total disregard for his health played a role in his death. I know for a fact if he had taken the time to stay home, rest and see a doctor

we could have prevented this death. Instead he was forced to work and I watched my 32 year old boyfriend, who hardly drank, never did drugs and wasn’t out of shape or obese, die in front of me. Can I sue them for their negligence?

Asked on August 6, 2017 under Personal Injury, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, you cannot, unfortunately.
First, regardless of the depth of your feelings for him, or your committment to each other, "boyfriend" is not a legal relationship; it is not being a spouse or in a recognized civil union. Being his girlfriend gives you no "standing," or legal right, to sue for any injuries to him or for his death.
Second, it is very unlikely that even a spouse could successfully sue on this ground. An employer *may* disregard an employee's health and can ask him to stay at work even if he does not feel well: an employer is not an employee's parent or legal guardian and has no legal duty to look out for this health. Since they had no duty to take care of him, they did nothing legally wrong. Further, they did not make your boyfriend stay: he could have left (i.e. he was not imprisoned). Yes, his job could have been  in jeopardy, but  he chose to put his job ahead of his health; his employer is not responsible for his choice.


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