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An infestation at BuzzFeed is a reminder that bedbugs can also cause havoc in the workplace
Bedbugs—those nasty parasites that feed off human blood—are typically a household problem. But every now and then, the critters find their way into the workplace, as they did last week at BuzzFeed’s headquarters in New York City.
'Someone could argue they suffered a psychological detriment or a physical detriment and financial costs due to being exposed in the workplace and carrying such bugs home.'
Someone exposed to bedbugs at work might file a negligence claim against an employer, Greenberg said.
“Someone could argue they suffered a psychological detriment or a physical detriment and financial costs due to being exposed in the workplace and carrying such bugs home,” he remarked.
“At least one worker’s compensation claim has been based on an allegation that a co-worker brought bedbugs into the workplace,” Murphy said. “A company that knows about a bedbug infestation and does nothing to correct it also could be subject to liability for negligence for any damages to customers or third parties.”
In one ADA case, a doorman with a developmental disability was suspended after complaints about his lack of personal hygiene. After concerns were raised about bedbugs, the bugs and their eggs were found in the doorman’s locker, Murphy noted.
“The evidence also showed that his residence had been infested with bedbugs for a month before the locker inspection. The employer then suspended the doorman and prohibited him from returning to work until he could confirm that his residence had been inspected, treated and certified by a licensed examiner as free of bedbugs,” he added.
Murphy said the court ruled for the employer on the ADA claim, “concluding that the evidence showed the employer had a legitimate concern about bedbugs and not that it was motivated by discrimination” based on any disability. (The case is Seeman v. Gracie Gardens Owners Corp., 794 F. Supp. 2d 476 (S.D.N.Y. 2011).)
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