I work for a large nationwide healthcare company in a corporate office in Orange County, California. Our office has massive overhead fluorescent lighting. Ever since I have worked there, ten years plus, if a person suffered from headaches due to the lighting they simply removed a bulb or two to dim the area with no problem ever. I have worked there over ten years.
Someone from the main Corporate office visited and decided our building was too dim and "depressing". The blinds were removed completely from break/lunch areas and it was decided that from now on all the lights would be back on completely. We were not even told of this but when the rumor spread we were then sent an e-mail saying the lights would be on full blast 1-28-13 and those of us with "issues" would need to obtain a doctors note and then "options" would be explored.
We feel that it is just ridiculous and that after years of being fine with the light these people are now going to blast on the lighting knowing full well that at least 40 people in our building will be liable to have migraines from the lighting. It seems that they are creating a hostile work environment by doing this knowing full well that people will suffer. Also shouldn't the employer have to reimburse those of us who had to pay for an office visit to see our doctors for the sole reason of obtaining the note regarding the lights?
1 Answer from Attorneys
There is no hostile work environment being created. Your employer has no obligation to reimburse you for any doctor's fees for preventative care.
Possibilities of a legal remedy are slight. Any claim for injury you suffer due to the lighting can only be pursued in worker's compensation. Unless your problem with the lighting rises to the level of a disability, then your employer has no duty to accommodate you. I suppose you might try a claim with Cal-OSHA for unhealthful or unsafe working conditions, but I'm not sure what kind of reception you would receive.
Best of luck to you.