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LawTalk
LawTalk, Attorney
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 27889
Experience:  I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
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I was exposed to mold in my home one year ago and became very

Customer Question

I was exposed to mold in my home one year ago and became very sick for 2.5months with a kind of pneumonia. Mold was discovered and removed from my home. I work in a food and drug retail establishment as a pharmacist. Recently mold was discovered in my work place causing symptoms of allergy for months and becoming more severe as asthma about 6 weeks ago. Knowing, my sensitivity, I filed a claim and was transferred to another store, while mold could be abated, and water leaks repairs. However, the mold situation in the new workplace is even worse, causing allergic and asthma symptoms every day that I have worked, 5 days thus far There is visible mold in ceiling tiles and black dust everywhere. I do not have symptoms when I am not at work. In discussing the issue with other coworkers, it seems that water leaking with mold accumulations into the pharmacies is not an isolated situation through out the company. There are several in the area that I have now heard about. I have not reported the new pharmacy's mold situation to the district manager as I have only been there for 5 days and fear retribution. Others in both pharmacies are experience allergic symptoms as well. I am seeing the work comp doctor in again in 1 week. How do I proceed to protect my job and my health.
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  LawTalk replied 10 months ago.

Good morning Michelle,

I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today. In order to give you a clear and concise answer, I will need some additional information about the circumstances, please.

1. Have you been seen by your physician recently with regard to the symptoms that you are complaining about to get some basic verification that it is your work environment that is causing these problems.

2. Has your physician agreed that these symptoms are related to mold/toxic mold exposure?

Doug

Customer: replied 10 months ago.

Did you get my reply?

Expert:  LawTalk replied 10 months ago.
Hi Michelle,

I'm sorry, but your reply was not posted to the thread. This is an ongoing problem that they are aware of and all I can do is ask that you repost your reply, please. I am sorry for any inconvenience.

When you get the customer satisfaction survey, you might mention that issue when you discuss the satisfaction with the site---keeping in mind that I have no control over it.

Doug
Customer: replied 10 months ago.

Really? OK The answer to the questions you asked, I did see a work comp doctor about 2 weeks ago who recommended that I be removed from my home store and transferred to another store. The mold in my home store has been tested and she confirmed that the symptoms I am having would be related. I have not seen a personal doctor for this yet. The problem is the store I was transferred to has visible mold as well, and my symptoms are persisting. I have another appointment with the work comp doctor in 1 week. Do I report the mold in the second pharmacy immediately to district manager or wait and report to work comp doctor? How do I report it?

Expert:  LawTalk replied 10 months ago.

Good morning Michelle,

Thank you for the additional information. That was exactly what I needed to know. As long as you have a physician who has determined that mold is a problem for you, then you are set.

Under the provisions of California Labor Code § 6310/CAL-OSHA: Employers may not punish workers in any way - including firing, demoting, discriminating or any other form of retaliation - for exercising their right to a safe workplace. Examples of protected activities include complaining to Cal/OSHA, seeking a Cal/OSHA inspection, participating in a Cal/OSHA inspection, and participating or testifying in any proceeding related to a Cal/OSHA inspection.

Furthermore, Title 8 California Code of Regulations (CCR) § 3203 and § 1509 holds that

every California employer to have a written Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) to promote health and safety in the workplace; and which includes a system to communicate with workers on health and safety matters, which must include a way for workers to report unsafe conditions without fear of reprisal.

You may not be retaliated against based on your reporting of a workplace health hazard, even if it is later determined that the hazard was either not critical, or even non-existent.

So, feel free to report the presence of the mold in the new story to your Manager, and to indicate that you are suffering from the same symptoms again that you suffered before being transferred. You may not be terminated, punished or retaliated against based on your making of the report. You should consider putting it in writing as well as making a verbal report to your Manager---for documentation purposes.


Please keep in mind that, even though you have already paid your deposit money over to JustAnswer, until you rate me highly for my service, I will not be paid for having assisted you with your questions.

If you have additional questions, you may of course reply back to me and I will be happy to continue to assist you further until your questions have been answered to your satisfaction.

I wish you the best in your future.

Doug

Customer: replied 10 months ago.

Hi Doug I do have a few more questions. Once reported what should I expect. I first reported the mold in July and the mold was simply painted over. I reported it again on 9/1 to higher level management because the mold got worse and additional mold was discovered. My symptoms got worse as well. What should a reasonable time line be to correct the health hazard. After filing the work comp claim and was transferred, I was told by my district manager, that I would need to increase my work schedule to cover the other store. How do I determine retaliation by the employer. In addition, if they transfer me to a 3 rd store with presumably no mold what would be a reasonably distance from my home, I have worked as pharmacy manger for the past 6 years at my home store with a 6 mile commute. Thanks for your time.

Expert:  LawTalk replied 10 months ago.

Hi Michelle,

You are welcome. It is my pleasure to assist you.

First of all, I have some experience litigating residence mold cases, and unless the mold was superficial, and treated chemically to kill the mold before it was painted over, the job was not done correctly. There is a lot more to mold remediation than a simple coat of paint.

As your reports to management don’t seem to be doing a lot to correct the situation, you do have the ability to file a formal complaint with CAL-OSHA and ask them to look into the mold situation as well. Again, while this won't make your employer particularly happy, they may not legally retaliate against you.

If store mold is a problem for your company, it may be that there is no store for you to go to and you will need to perhaps file for unemployment and look for another position. And in terms of where you can be relocated to---realizing that there are a finite number of pharmacies you can be transferred to, being relocated to a more distant workplace is to perhaps, be expected. If the transfer is too long a commute, then again, you would need to decide whether you wanted to stay with the company. But if there is no position nearby, they have little choice but to assign you to a distant store if they are to relocate you. The law does not require that they somehow make a position open for you in another store in order to place you in a store close you your residence, and it is not retaliation to give you what is reasonably available.

A reasonable time to correct the health hazard---when the hazard can be easily identified, and the process is not all that difficult, one would think that 30 days would be sufficient---but again, this is not a law. If you want to put a fire under management, then get CAL-OSHA involved, and I assure you that they will get the point.

Thank you for your kind words. They are appreciated. Please keep in mind that even though you have already paid your deposit money over to JustAnswer, until you rate me highly for my service, I will not be paid for having assisted you with your questions.

Thanks again.

I wish you well,

Doug

LawTalk, Attorney
Satisfied Customers: 27889
Experience: I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
LawTalk and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  LawTalk replied 10 months ago.
Thank you for your positive rating of my service, Michelle. It has been my pleasure to assist you and I hope than you will ask for me on JustAnswer should a future need ever arise. I am generally available at least 6 days a week, and often 7, and it would be my privilege to assist you again in the future.

I welcome you to request my assistance in any future legal questions you may have, by simply placing my name in the first sentence of your new question.


Thanks again.

Doug

When you receive your Customer Satisfaction Survey from JustAnswer, please do rate me highly (9-10) there as well. It would be tremendously appreciated.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.

Hi Doug


Hope you are well! Thanks again for your time. So I have notified my DM that 2nd mold problem exists in the store that he sent me....incidentally..... to to get away from the current mold problem that is being abated in my home store (that is scheduled to be completed in a week). I have been stressed over the whole situation and am concerned because my DM has not responded to me at all since I have notified him about the 2nd mold issue. How do I proceed?

Expert:  LawTalk replied 10 months ago.

Hi Michelle,

I can't tell you what you do. All I can do is tell you what your options are, and they are limited. You can go above the GM's head, you can contact CAL-OSHA, if you are ill enough you can file a workers' compensation claim and perhaps be taken off work until the situation is no longer a danger to your health or you can leave and find a different position elsewhere.

You need to choose to do what is best for you under the totality of the circumstances.

best for you under the totality of the circumstances.

I wish you well,

Doug

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