Pittsburgh, PA asked in Employment Law and Workers' Compensation for Ohio

Q: Can you sue employer for getting covid from not providing a safe workplace from recognizable hazards?

My fiances work had a covid exposure so everyone had to get tested. They made them return to work without seeing the results and more employees tested positive thus resulting in further exposure. Is this something that can be taken to court for those who test positive because the employer did not provide a workplace free of recognizable hazards.

1 Lawyer Answer
Hunter G. Cavell
Hunter G. Cavell

A: First, your fiance would need to test positive for COVID, or another employee would want to sue. In every lawsuit, you must prove the four following things: duty, breach, causation, and injury. Your fiance's employer has a duty to provide him with a safe workplace. The question will become if they breached the duty (such as allowing a positive person to continue to work), however, this may come down to if the employer followed state/CDC guidelines, which are constantly changing. Then you will need to prove that your fiance or the other employees contracted COVID from the positive employee, which will be hard to do, and will require expert testimony. Then, if you can get past that, you will need to show what the employees' damages are, such as cost of treatment, missed wages, pain and suffering, and other factors.

So, hopefully it does not come to your fiance contracting the virus, but there is no cut and dry answer. Employers are in a state of flux, and it seems only the most egregious violations will breach the duty owed to employees. This would also likely fall under workers' compensation, rather than a traditional lawsuit. Good luck and stay healthy!

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