What are an ex-employee’s rights regarding a hostile and unsafe work enviornmrnt?

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What are an ex-employee’s rights regarding a hostile and unsafe work enviornmrnt?

I worked for a privately owned restaurant but felt it was necessary to leave because of the owners behavior. The last few weeks of working with her were unbearable. The final straw was when she exposed me to a cleaner that she knew Im allergic to. I had to go home because I had an asthmatic reaction. She called me and said that I walked out on the job. She never complained about my performance before I became ill and had recently given me a raise. After a few days, my symptoms were not getting any better and I had to be seen in the emergency room. I have no health insurance and cant afford the prescriptions or the hospital bill. Can my employer be held liable for creating a hostile work environment and exposing me to a cleaner she knew I am allergic to?

Asked on September 7, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Alabama

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You have a couple of different options... but your first step is to report the incident to the HR department and advise them that you illness is workplace related.  You also need to tell them that you want to file a worker's compensation claim.  Here is a website that can help you with this process: http://dir.alabama.gov/wc/benefits.aspx     Under worker's comp laws, if you employer caused the injury or illness while you were on the job, then they are liable for your medical expenses.

Your second step is also with HR.  If you are going to be out for an extended period of time because of this illness, tell them that you would like to apply for FMLA.  This won't get you any pay, but it will protect your job status.

These two steps are your most important ones--- and the sooner the better.   The next steps are optional.  Considering this was an intentional act, rather than just an accident, the employer may or may not have additional exposure.  You may want to set up a meeting with a worker's comp attorney or personal injury attorney to flesh out the details of your case a bit more.  You may also want to file a complaint with OSHA.  They have a 1-800 online that doesn't cost you anything to report an issue without having to disclosure your identity--- unless you just want to.  If you need compensation, talk to the attorney.  If you just want the satisfaction of knowing that it won't happen again, call OSHA.


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