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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation and administration.
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I began employment this past Monday, 11/4 with a dog kennel

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I began employment this past Monday, 11/4 with a dog kennel and worked a total of four days this week. I was NEVER advised prior to coming to work for this kennel of any of these expectations and situations listed below.
On day one (Monday) I slipped and fell inside the kennel on my knee, hand and elbow.. I was not told to watch out for the water drain gutter while walking down the side of the kennel and slipped when my foot hit the gutter. I am still in pain from this. On day two (Thursday) while walking outside, around the exterior of the outside dog runs, I tripped over a large hose that was left strewn across the walkway and landed on the same knee, hand and elbow as day one. (my left side, and I am left handed) The walkway is concrete. I landed with my full body weight on the concrete walkway. I fell so hard that the co-worker I was with said he heard me hit the ground and was stunned because I cried out in pain when I fell and could not immediately get up. I am shocked that I didn't break my elbow or knee as I was in so much pain. My arm is in a sling at night. I took it off to go to work yesterday and today. Both the kennel manager and the owner act like this is no big deal. I was told "that my body is going to get beat up working here". No accident reports were taken. I was with an employee both times I fell. I was with the kennel manager the first time I fell and a co worker the second time fell. He told the kennel manager I fell within 25 minutes of the fall and I told her again. I told her I was in a lot of pain and she did nothing. One Thursday and Friday I was told by the kennel manager that I "should expect to be bitten by one of the dogs" as this is "part of the job". On day four, today, I was told by the kennel manager that I would be "expected to break up dog fights." What initiated this conversation was I was told by the kennel manager that the owner was watching me on camera (from her home) while I was feeding the dogs dinner (dogs were in their pens) and she felt that I was too timid around the more aggressive dogs. As a side note, the owner takes in "aggressive", "caution" dogs. The manager was at the owner's home last night complaining that she is taking too many aggressive dogs. While the kennel manager was at the owers home discussing this topic, the owner brought me up regarding her concern if "I have what it takes" to manage the aggressive dogs! I've been there four days with absolutely no training! So basically, in addition to being told that I need to have what it takes to be bitten by dogs, break up dog fights and manage aggressive dogs during feeding, I was also told that I am being watched on camera by the owner of the kennel from her home. There has been absolutely no formal safety or dog behavior training offered. I'm being told that I will be expected to "break up dog fights" and not be trained how to do this. Last, we are required to use bleach to clean everything, floors, cages, dog bowls, laundry, including spraying the dog runs with bleach in the evening. (approx 15-20 -there are two employees spraying two sides of 15-20 runs). A spray gun is used for this job as well for during the day to spray the inside pen if the dog has gone to the bathroom in the pen. We are not given any type of protective masks, gloves or outerwear and are expected to do this in our own work cloths. The fumes are giving me headaches. This is all getting a bit insane to me. The shift run 6-7 hours and employees are not given a formal break time. I've been shown by a co-worker and the kennel manager where they they have been bitten on the hand and have been told the same story three times that an employee was mauled at this kennel inside a dog pen. Is this an OSHA nightmare or am I over reacting? Could I be let go by the because I'm being watched on camera and not completing tasks with aggressive dogs that I haven't been trained for?
Thank you for your post. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns. I happen to be a licensed New Jersey professional.

If I may ask, are you full-time or part-time? How many other employees are on premises?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

right now part time because I'm only being given 30 hours a week. I was told it would transition to full time. Approximately 10-12 additional employees


Before you took this job, what if anything were you described about this position? What did you think this job would entail?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Because of my sales and customer service background experience, my job description (given to me by the owner) was to manage the "front" ... taking phone reservations, greeting customers, checking in and checking out the dogs. I was told I would be trained as a "manager" because the current manager would be leaving by the end of November, early December. I thought I was going to be trained for overall business management. However the owner told me she wanted me to train in the back first as I needed to learn to work with the dogs. I agreed. However I thought she and the current kennel manager were going to train me to manage the dogs.There has been absolutely no training other than being told what cleaning and feeding tasks so do by the current kennel manager. I was not told about any of the situations listed above. I thought I was going to learn how to work with dogs. I was never told about aggressive dogs, being watched by camera, cleaning and spraying out dog pens and runs, washing floors, the constant cleaning of every room and cage. None of this was discussed. I didn't even know she took in aggressive dogs.

I am sorry if you feel that you were misled. Have you discussed that with management? Have you considered quitting? Do you know if they have workers compensation insurance on premises?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

. I'm stunned's only been four days. I don't know how to proceed. Is it acceptable that I could be bitten, that I'm being asked to break up dogs fights with no training,that I'm being watched by camera, must use bleach to spray clean without being given protective gear...I don't know how to proceed. I don't know if they have workers compensation insurance on promises however if they do, how does that impact this situation?


Speaking purely from a logical perspective, if you are working at the pound, there is an automatic assumption of risk that any employee obtains that an animal may bite, scratch, or otherwise attempt to attack the workers. The warning the employer provided is quite valid and that by itself is not a violation. While it is not 'acceptable', it is a real danger. It may create liability if the injury is serious enough where you may need to seek workers compensation benefits but it is somewhat difficult to not expect biting if you work at a kennel--that is indeed part of the job. The same potential risk may be working at day-care--children can bite those who work with them, although I am not equating children with animals, merely with a similar sort of risk.

In terms of watching you on film, New Jersey laws permit employers placing cameras on site, just not in truly private areas such as bathrooms or locker rooms. Being told that you are being filmed is simply putting you on notice, but it does not violate state law if you are being filmed. If he does film you elsewhere, it can create violations and potentially permit you to file for a cause of action and damages.

Having worker's compensation is an insurance coverage policy that makes employer liable for personal injuries that employees sustain while being on employer premises or working for them. In this situation if you seriously hurt your wrist and it is in pan, you can potentially request the employer's insurance information so that you can file a claim and have the coverage cover your medical costs if any. That is why it is important, it can help you cover costs from hurting yourself while working for this employer. This is obviously very important if you are already injured and may be injured further.

Ultimately it sounds as if this job is completely not what you expected. In that situation you really have two options--you can either tough it out because the situation likely will not change for the better, or you can quit and find something better. So far the employer has not demanded or requested that you do anything outside of your scope of employment as a 'manager' in a kennel (since a manager is supposed to know all aspects of employment), but if you feel it will get worse, consider finding something that is more aligned with your expectations.


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