As an employee, can I refusemy employer’srequest to give first aid to fellow employees or store customers?

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As an employee, can I refusemy employer’srequest to give first aid to fellow employees or store customers?

I work for a national retail chain. Whenever an associate or customer needs some kind of medical attention management calls me to see if I can help. I am not a trained medic so I do what I can. I usually have them call 911. Can I refuse managements request to aid in giving first aid? Can I tell them that I would rather not be involved any longer and for for management to stop relying on me. About a month ago, one of our associate collapsed and I gave CPR while paramedics were enroute. Am I liable if anything goes wrong with this person, or is the store liable?

Asked on October 2, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

1) You can refuse to provide medical care for another person, but it is possible that your employer may terminate you for doing so. Even thought they'd be wrong to do so (see below), unless you have an employment contract guaranteeing or protecting your job, you are an employee at will and can be terminated at any time, for essentially any reason. It might be possible (see (3) below) to sue for wrongful termination if you refused and were let go for that reason, but it's not certain.

2) The reason they would be wrong to terminate you for not providing medical care is that by providing medical care, you are putting yourself and the company both at risk. If you cause harm to a person you are rendering care to, it is very possible you could be sued--and your employer could be sued since you are their employee and they are requiring you to do this.

The risk of liability is enormous; this is very dangerous, legally and financially, for you to undertake. It is also dangerous for your company to want a nonmedical person to provide medical care.

3) The reason you might be able to sue for wrongful termination if let go for refusing is that employees do not need to do illegal activities--and what you are being asked to do might cross the line into being asked to practice medicine without a license. It's one thing to attempt, on the spur of the moment to aid another; it's another to be expected to provide medical assistance as part of your job.


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