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Smoking/vaping in workplace

Discussion in 'Employment, Labor, Work Issues' started by BobLoblawsLawBlog, Nov 26, 2019.

  1. BobLoblawsLawBlog

    BobLoblawsLawBlog Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    Washington
    King County regulates vaping in workplaces the same as smoking, not allowed.
    Tobacco laws and resources for tobacco retailers - King County

    An employer in Seattle (King County) also has an official company policy on vaping, that it should be done outdoors and at least 25' away from doors, just like smoking. An employee (employee 1) at this company has witnessed other employees vaping inside the office building in conference rooms, shared space and private offices. Employee 1 has been sharing an office with another employee (employee 2) for a few weeks. Employee 2 vapes in this shared office while sitting at their desk. Employee 1 has asked employee 2 to stop vaping in the office multiple times. Employee 1 has reported this vaping to company management multiple times and the violations have continued. At some level of management, vaping in the office has been tolerated in this company. Management only sent out notice to employees that vaping indoors was not allowed until after employee 1's third complaint about employee 2 vaping in the shared office.

    Employee 1 has felt ill effects from second hand vaping in the enclosed space of the shared office in particular, including lung irritation, elevated heart rate, jitters and inability to concentrate. Working from home has not been an option for employee 1 since management made it clear during the hiring process that working from home was not an option.

    Other than reporting these violations to King County, is there any sort of suit that employee 1 can bring against the employer or employee 2? If so, what type of lawyer would handle something like this? Unless further study proves otherwise, it is unlikely there will be any lasting health effects from employee 1's short term exposure to second hand vaping, but is there any way to punish the employer for supporting a company culture of indoor vaping in violation of company policy and county law beyond whatever fines might come from reporting these violations to county government?
     
  2. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    The employee's recourse would be a work-comp claim.
     
  3. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    Why would you rule out reporting it to the county?

    While you can certainly file a WC claim I think it will be tough to prove the cause of your "injury".
     
    Zigner likes this.
  4. BobLoblawsLawBlog

    BobLoblawsLawBlog Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Sorry for the confusion. This is being reported to the county, but employee 1 is concerned that whatever small fines might result from reporting to the county won't be enough to motivate the employer to change their culture from tolerating to actively stopping indoor vaping.

    I agree that a WC claim probably doesn't fit this situation.
     
  5. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    The OP may wish to consider new employment.
     
  6. BobLoblawsLawBlog

    BobLoblawsLawBlog Law Topic Starter New Member

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    That's definitely happening. :)
     
  7. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    I see - then this is less about social justice and more about petty revenge.
     
  8. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    In some instances employees might become known to management as "chronic complainers" and/or "woeful whiners" who could end up being riffed or "laid off".

    A prudent employee might suggest that he/she be relocated away from the alleged "vaping violator", if the company wishes to "ignore" the lawless behavior of select personnel.
     
  9. BobLoblawsLawBlog

    BobLoblawsLawBlog Law Topic Starter New Member

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    It's possible the employee has lost faith and trust in this employer due to this experience and considers finding other employment their best option, and also would prefer that whoever replaces them at this employer doesn't have to go through the same negative experience.
     
  10. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Ok, sure. Go with that.
     
  11. BobLoblawsLawBlog

    BobLoblawsLawBlog Law Topic Starter New Member

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    The employee did tell management that if vaping was to be allowed in this shared office that employee would have to move. Management responded only that violator would be told to stop.
     
  12. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Here's a few things I've learned during my lifetime.
    In all fairness, these lessons were taught to me by my mother and father, only to be observed by me during my early years.

    Very few people want to hear complaints, although they feign to solicit same.

    The squeaky wheel often gets the boot, rarely does it get oiled, as it often gets replaced.

    An organism's desires, once made known, are often denied in very clever ways.

    The one who tattles on others is very often held in contempt by the overlords (as in "betters").

    Evilene, a character in the movie - "The Wiz" sums up how "the bosses" really feel; (albeit in the triple negative) "Don't Nobody Bring Me No Bad News"!

     
  13. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    OK. Is he still vaping? Did he stop and you want him whipped in front of all of the other employees?
     
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