What can we do about an employee’s possible false allegations regarding fleas in the workplace?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What can we do about an employee’s possible false allegations regarding fleas in the workplace?

We have an employee who is adamant that she picked up what appear to be fleas from our building. No other employee has had a similar claim. We have over 25 employees working from the same building. We have a contracted exterminator visit the building on a schedule year-round. This employee claims she does not feel that we are providing a safe work environment and will not return until the flea issue is resolved. Since we have not had any similar claims, we are inclined to believe this is an issue isolated to this employee’s home/vehicle, and we have no way of knowing exactly where she picked up these fleas. She has only worked for us for less than a week but has created quite a stir with these allegations. How can we legally protect ourselves?

Asked on August 29, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Bring the exterminator in, even if it's off the normal schedule; have him/her investigate for fleas and provide a written report. Assuming it shows no fleas, forward that report to your employee, sent some way or ways you can prove delivery (e.g. email and overnight delivery) and inform him/her that if he/she is not there the next day, he or she will be taken to have abandoned his/her job (e.g. quit or resigned). Phone the employee as well and keep a record of the call. If after getting an exterminator's report there are no fleas, the employee does not come in, treat it as if he/she did quit.
If there were fleas, exterminate.

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