If your workplace poses an imminent threat to your life, the OSH Act gives you the right to refuse to work. See Nolo's article Dealing With Workplace Health and Safety Issues for more information.
Even if your workplace does not pose imminent danger, however, the OSH Act gives you many important rights, including the right to:
For more information on OSHA or to get contact information for your nearest OSHA office, visit the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration website, at www.osha.gov.
If you have been injured at work by a hazard that could harm someone else, take the following steps as quickly as possible after obtaining medical treatment.
OSHA rules apply to tobacco smoke only in rare and extreme circumstances, such as when contaminants created by a manufacturing process combine with tobacco smoke to create a dangerous workplace air supply that fails OSHA standards. Workplace air quality standards and measurement techniques are so technical that, typically, only OSHA agents or consultants who specialize in environmental testing are able to determine when the air quality falls below allowable limits. However, many state and local governments have separate laws that prohibit or restrict smoking in the workplace.
For more information, see Nolo's article Smoking in the Workplace.
For a comprehensive guide to workplace laws, get Your Rights in the Workplace, by Barbara Repa (Nolo).
Yes. You can get a restraining order, which requires your ex to stay a certain distance away from you at all times, and you can make sure that the places you frequent, such as your home, workplace, or school, are included in the order. In many states, your employer may be able to get its own restraining order to keep your ex off the premises. There are also some commonsense safety precautions you can take at work, such as making sure no one gives out information on your presence or whereabouts. For more information, see Nolo's article Workplace Violence: Understand and Avoid It.
Not right away. Although the health care reform law (called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) will eventually require some employers to "pay or play" -- to offer health care coverage to employees or pay a penalty -- that requirement doesn't kick in until 2014. Even when it does go into effect, it will apply only to employers with at least 50 employees. Smaller employers aren't required to offer coverage, but those that do will receive incentives in the form of tax credits. For more information, see Nolo's article Health Care Reform: What Employers and Employees Need to Know. And that's assuming it goes into effect at all: The Supreme Court will be deciding several cases challenging the constitutionality of the health care reform law. (Check out our blog post, Supreme Court to Hear Challenges to Healthcare Reform, to find out more about these cases.)
Federal and state laws protect you from having to work in dangerous or hazardous conditions. The main federal law covering threats to workplace safety is the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (the "OSH Act" -- 29 U.S.C. § 651 and following). The OSH Act gives you a number of rights if you think that some aspect of your workplace or working conditions is unsafe. See Nolo's article Dealing With Workplace Health and Safety Issues for more information.
Most state laws track the federal law fairly closely. To find out about workplace safety laws in your state, contact your state labor department.