Second-Hand Smoke and the Workplace

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Second-Hand Smoke and the Workplace

Many people work in environments where they are subjected to second-hand smoke. If your health problems are aggravated by smoke, there are several steps you can take.

The first thing you should do is check the local and state laws. Many states and towns have passed laws prohibiting or restricting smoking in the workplace. Also, states often set up procedures to complain about workplace exposure.

If you have been injured by the second-hand smoke, you can file a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Department of Justice (DOJ) may mediate between you and your employer, or may intervene on your behalf.

Finally, you may want to consider simply finding a new job. While looking for a new job, you may be eligible to collect worker’s compensation or unemployment.

Filing a Worker’s Compensation Claim

In order to be successful in your worker’s compensation claim, you must prove that environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) in your workplace caused you to develop a medical condition, or exacerbated your pre-existing condition. You will have to show that you developed a disease or illness that was caused by the workplace environment, and that your illness is directly related to your job responsibilities. If your illness fulfills these requirements, it is an occupational disease.

If you contract an illness that was caused by prolonged exposure to second-hand smoke, you will be deemed to have suffered an accidental injury because no one could have predicted your illness. Furthermore, if you work in an office that has little or no ventilation, or is smoke-filled, it qualifies as an environment that is hazardous to your health that can cause an injury covered by worker’s compensation.

Eligibility for Worker’s Compensation Benefits

In order to be eligible for worker’s compensation benefits to compensate you for injuries caused by second-hand smoke, you must demonstrate that you have a sensitivity to second-hand smoke; you were diagnosed with a medical illness that was caused, or exacerbated, by second-hand smoke; you have proof from a physician who can state that your illness was directly caused by exposure to second-hand smoke; you were exposed to second-hand smoke in the workplace, or compelled to work in the same environment as smokers; and you had little or no exposure to second-hand smoke outside of the workplace.

Consult an Attorney

Regardless of what course of action you choose, you should consult a worker’s compensation attorney. An experienced attorney will be able to inform you of the relevant laws, and advise you on the proper course to take.

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Last Modified: 10-01-2014 12:58 PM PDT

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