Is it legal to have employees work under hazardous conditions such as no air conditioning in a store thatis 87 degrees inside?

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Is it legal to have employees work under hazardous conditions such as no air conditioning in a store thatis 87 degrees inside?

I work in a retail store and the air conditioning is not working. The temperature is so hot the other employees and myself are suffering migraine headaches, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea along with other symptoms. I have not been able to work in the store due to the hazard conditions and as a result I am losing pay for each day the air conditioning is not working. Is there a law that employees are not obligated to work in a atmosphere and should I be getting paid for the time I can not work under those circumstance when I am scheduled to work. Should I get paid for those days?

Asked on August 30, 2011 California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If there is some specific law or regulation which you can find that require air conditioning in a retail establishment, then you may have some recourse for not being provided with it--note that I am unaware of any such law. If you can show that the condition is unreasonably hazardous, there *may* be some recovery if you suffer injury from it, but not likely for not choosing to work in it--but I do not believe that 87 degrees would be considered hazardous. That is normal temperature for much of the country during the summer. In short, while it is undoubtedly unpleasant, working in 87 degree temperature is not likely barred by statute, regulation, or by the general common law principals of negligence or liability for creating a hazardous condition, so it is doubtful that you have any recourse. Indeed, not only would you not be owed pay for days you are not working, but you could almost certainly be terminated by your employer for cause (and so be ineligible for unemployment compensation) for unexcused absenteeism.


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