Agreeing on suing employer


#1

So the short story of what has transpired in the long while since I last posted…
I got a job, hubby and I bought a house (which in our area is associated with a substantial mortgage payment) that was partially facilitated by a short-term loan from my grandparents… and then it gets interesting.
I’ve developed exophthalmost or proptosis in my right eye (basically eye bulging out) for which doctors have been unable to find any explanation. A 24" duct collapsed in the building for which I am responsible at work, crashing across the area where I work from 40 feet high. It is honestly a miracle that no one was injured or killed.

Our house, which we cannot live in until renovations are complete, was broken into, and since there was nothing of value to steal, they ripped out the carpet and swiped the doors right off the hinges. Cute, no? And then I get locked out of the house in the bitter cold wind for 45 minutes because my husband took my keys, placed my spare set for me to unsuspectingly grab on my way out, only to discover I left my cell phone inside and my husband had taken my car as well.

This pinnacle of all this unpleasantness is that due to negligent maintenance of equipment at work, I received a 120V electric shock for about 30 seconds until someone literally pushed me away from the device that was malfunctioning. It appears that I won’t have any long-term effects from this, but the fact remains that it could have been fatal and should never have happened.

At first I assumed that my family would be totally supportive of quitting the very next day and my grandparents forgiving our debt until I could find a safer job, but they insisted that I/we have an obligation to pay that back as originally planned. My dad suggested sticking it out until I found something, but it’s pretty hard to look for a job while working full time and then some. So I feel a little trapped in this job for the 2 and a half year time span we will be repaying my grandparents.

I anticipated my husband putting up a huge fuss about my ever setting foot in that place again, but he seemed to be agreeable (though not his first choice) to my dad’s plan, until yesterday when he totally dropped a bomb.

His brother, who is very business saavy, is encouraging him/us to sue the snot out of my employer. As much as I would love to be able to pay my grandparents back next month and be able to stay home and have children sooner rather than later, it seems like a pretty cheap way to achieve your goals. Aside from the serious safety concerns, I do enjoy what I am doing.

His brother pointed out that a company that demonstrates such gross negligence of safety (remember, the 24" duct AND the electric shock in less than a month time, plus a whole host of other injuries to my coworkers) will only respond to something that will effect their bottom line. I can’t disagree, yet it literally makes my stomach turn to think about “serving someone” with legal papers, or facing my coworkers knowing that my husband is calling a lawyer.

Where can I find peace in all of this?


#2

In front of the Eucharist. What does God say?


#3

Hi…I’m sorry for your situation, as you are in a tough spot. But…before I offer advice…what do you mean that you were responsible for the duct falling? Is it part of your job to maintain safety and the facility? Please elaborate…thank you!:slight_smile:


#4

Your brother-in-law is RIGHT! I understand your concerns, but as the doctors told you, your electric shock could have been fatal, it wasnt, but who is to say it wont be the next time, maybe not for you, but for someone else? You say “plus a whole host of other injuries to my coworkers”, this is even more of a reason to make your company sit up and take note. If someone doesent do something about it now, your company will do absolutely nothing about it.

Have they offered you any sort of support?


#5

I am responsible for process engineering in the building where the duct fell, not for the duct falling. The duct falling was the result of poor design and many years of zero mainenance or monitoring. It could not have been prevented by me in any way. Sorry that wasn’t clear.


#6

as I dont knwo the terms of your loan with your grandparents other than what oyu have posted here…yes you do have an obligation to pay them back and it is their right to day yeah or nay as to when you pay them back…
now as to finding a new job…get in touch with a head hunter…they can search for you, while you work…and if anything pops up you can go for interviews during your lunch hour.
Also perhaps instead of suing your employeer perhaps you should report them to OSHA…they can hit the bottom line also


#7

His brother pointed out that a company that demonstrates such gross negligence of safety (remember, the 24" duct AND the electric shock in less than a month time, plus a whole host of other injuries to my coworkers) will only respond to something that will effect their bottom line. I can’t disagree, yet it literally makes my stomach turn to think about “serving someone” with legal papers, or facing my coworkers knowing that my husband is calling a lawyer.

Where can I find peace in all of this?

I think that you have an obligation to sue your employer. I know that it’s rough to go thru a trial and that there is no guarantee that you’ll win, however, if you don’t act and the next time someone dies as a consequence of your employer’s negligence it might haunt you the rest of your life.


#8

Vluvski:

“A whole host of other injuries to my coworkers”

Other people are at risk if you do nothing.


#9

ok…thanks for clarifying…i work for a mega insurance broker…and we see these types of cases every day…and would you be suing for workers comp then? not suing beyond that? i ask because really the only way to sue and win beyond a workers comp claim, would be if you could prove that your employer was asked to fix these faulty ducts, etc…and did nothing to do so. if you are not receiving workers comp…then, you should sue. this is a work related injury, and i know people who have life long injuries that are still receiving comp claim monies. that’s why workers comp is in place to begin with.

so…next question is…are you suing for workers comp? and if so…why aren’t they paying that out to begin with? i mean, that is basic…but, you have a major lawsuit, if you have proof…or can get it, that they neglected to fix the ducts. look forward to your reply.:slight_smile:


#10

lol–i think you also asked about finding peace in this…sorry–got carried away with the mechanics of your problem.:o

if they are not willing to pay you for your injuries…and they were at fault…which should fall under a comp claim…then, they need to be taken to court. it won’t get that far, trust me. it’s not unusual to feel guilty…as though suing is unfair to your employer, in some way. i sense that in your thread, and as a Christian…i can see where your hesitance comes in. but do not feel like God will be angry with you for asking for something that most companies provide, without a fight. frankly, your employer willingly violates basic workers comp laws by not paying you for your injuries, and for being out of work. i think you need to look at this situation as you are helping prevent further injuries…further situations…further suffering that you have gone through, for your coworkers. I have a hard time thinking that God would frown upon you seeking justice.:o


#11

So on what grounds would I be suing since there’s no evidence whatsoever that I am injured? I was cleared to return to work the next day and did so. There’s nothing to indicate it even happened except a couple blood blisters where the current passed out of my finger.

Besides, a company that does not foster a safe environment would have no qualms firing me on some phony grounds just to sweep it under the rug. I would have an awfully hard time finding other employment if that ever came to light for some other potential employer.


#12

well now that they cant do…as much as they might like to. If they did and you could prove it would cost them BIG money.

As to what grounds you could sue for now…that is a good question.


#13

My employer gladly paid all medical expenses. The hard part is that who knows what long term effect this might have on my heart even though the EKG showed nothing abnormal. I and the company filed all the workers comp paperwork, so I assume that is all in the works still.

I have no idea what transpired to result in the catastrophic collapse of the duct. The device I was touching was supposed to receive maintenance every 2 weeks and obviously didn’t or well, just didn’t.

As for any formal system to propose a corrective action, I can’t seem to find one in place. I was invited and agreed to join the safety committee, but based on the first meeting found it to be more of an erring of grievances than anything else. I get the feeling that some people at the company would choose to let problems go on simply to have something to complain about.

The pay, hours, vacation, and general worker satisfaction at this place are pathetic, IMO. The company is successful because they are basically a last chance employer that can get away with compensating employees minimally. Just like everyone else there it seems, I took the job because I needed one and couldn’t get one anywhere else, some for different reasons from others.


#14

Make sure that you get records of everything that happened and do not keep them in your computer at work.
A lawyer can advise you as to the grounds for a lawsuit.
Another poster advised that you talk to OSHA-that sounds like a good idea to me but do NOT make the call from your office.
In the state of Maryland an employer can discharge you for no reason at all.
Maryland has an “at will” employment practice which means you can work or not work simply at the will of your employer.
That means that whether or not you sue you could lose your job.
Did you have insurance on your house when it was vandalized?
Talking to a lawyer is your best bet, a lot of attorneys will give you a few minutes of time for free to see if there’s any money in it for them.


#15

really should look into a head hunter…they work miracles in terms of turning up employment oppurtunities


#16

as for the “at will” employment, my job is/would be in even greater jeopardy because they have a 90 day contingency period during which I am not considered a permanent employee. I’ve worked there about a month and a half.

The only “grounds” I can come up with, and this would be a stretch, would be that their failure to provide a safe work environment “forced” me to leave an otherwise decent (read: tolerable) job, on which I had based financial obligations that now cannot be met. The simple fact is that I cannot get a job doing anything else that earns me as much as engineering does, and that engineering jobs at my experience level are hard to come by. As a student with a strong GPA and being the recipient of the most prestigious scholarship NC State offers, it still took me 3 months of full-time work to find this job.

I used 2 head hunters who also could not turn up anything for me. It’s just a tough market for ChemE’s here.


#17

Under the workers compensation laws, it is unlikely that you could sue your employer but you very well might have a claim for medical treatment and lost wages. You should seek legal counsel or, at the minimum, contact Maryland’s Workers Compensation Commission to obtain information on the grounds and procedures for filing a claim. There is also likely to be a statute of limitiations for a claim, which is why you should promptly seek legal advice from an attorney to avoid having any claim that you might have be time barred.


#18

Did you buy the house before you got the job or after?


#19

If you don’t want to sue, report them to Health and Safety.


#20

Don’t guess about your legal rights. Please see a lawyer.


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