What to do about an unsanitary co-worker?

UPDATED: May 17, 2011

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What to do about an unsanitary co-worker?

A co-worker in my department rarely bathes or washes his clothing, so naturally he stinks. He also hoards newspapers, empty food containers (many still have food particles), plastic cups, and all sorts of trash (he hoards trash in other parts of the building as well). My other co-workers and I have complained to our boss, who spoke to him about it. When nothing changed, she took the issue to her boss. Still nothing has changed. What law can we reference and what should our next step be? 

Asked on May 17, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

There may be nothing you can do in this case, unfortunately, if your company refuses to take action. The only things which *might* give you leverage are these:

1) IF this gentleman has created conditions that actually violate municipal health codes (you can get those or find refence to those either online or by going to town hall or the equivalent), then it might be possible to call the health department. This, of course, will hardly endear you to your company, and while companies are not legally supposed to retaliate against employees for reporting legal violations, there is often a large gap between what companies should do and what they actually do.

2) You can inform your company that if you get sick owing to the unhygienic conditions created by your co-worker, you will have no choice but to sue and/or bring a worker's compensation claim, as appropriate.

Apart from the above, the law does not require people to be sanitary.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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