Knowing Your Rights When Dealing With Mold
Mold causes concern to everyone, whether in a household or in a workplace. The truth is, many lawsuits have stemmed from mold cases across the country when people have claimed that the mold landed them in the hospital for things like rashes, nausea, hemorrhaging, and more. Mold is not always seen by the naked eye; no, sometimes it is visible on walls or ceilings and other times it hides itself in less accessible spots like basements or attics. It will usually grow on water-soaked materials like wall paneling and ceiling tiles. You may have seen some mold in your house or workplace, but what can you do about it?
Mold in the Workplace
You have a right to a safe workplace no matter where you work, whether it is an office space or a construction zone. So if there is mold growing in your workplace, you may face immediate health risks. Molds can cause asthma attacks in some individuals, irritation to the skin, eyes, and nose, and more. Often times, mold will sprout up at a workplace after a water event, so you should watch out for any leaks or floods in workplace areas. Your employer should always take notice to the environment of locations where water events have taken place whether they have cracks on ceilings, leaking pipes, or places with dark stains. What should you do when you suspect there is mold in the workplace?
The first thing you should do is advise your manager immediately after the mold has been found. You should always report these types of adverse things in emails so that you have record of mentioning it. Two things to include are when and where you first noticed the mold and how big it was. If there has been a recent water-related event in the workplace, remind your employer. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), wet materials in the workplace should be cleaned and dried 24 to 48 hours after a water event takes place to prevent mold.
If you do not receive a timely response to your email, then you should see he or she in person. Remind them that there is a mold problem that could pose an immediate health risk and that the problem needs corrected. If he or she does not listen, then it may be time to contact your human resources department or another high-ranking official. If you feel like your company is at immediate risk, you could always go to your local OSHA office. They will help you if your company takes no action to clean up the mold.
Mold in a Rental Property
Many of us rent, which means many of us have landlords. Did you know that your landlord has a legal responsibility to provide you with a clean and healthy place to live? Many states, including New Jersey, have state laws regarding mold indoors at a rental unit and what must be done. This means that, if there is mold that keeps you from safely inhabiting your home, the landlord owes you a duty to take care of the problem. Here are some problems pertaining to mold in rental properties:
- Failure to Fix Leaks: Landlords are responsible for maintaining fit and habitable housing and repairing anything involved with the rental property, which includes leaking pipes, windows, and roofs. If leaks are not taken care of and mold grows, you could hold the landlord responsible if you become sick.
- Tenant Behavior: If your actions create mold in your rental, then you cannot hold the landlord responsible.
- Clauses: Always beware of signing your lease, because landlords can legally add a clause that says they will not be held liable if mold grows on the property. (Portman)
Have you become ill in your rental property or in the workplace because of negligence that caused mold to grow? Did you report the mold problem to your employer only to receive nothing in return? Did your landlord make you live in uninhabitable conditions? You may have a case and we would like to help. Call Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi today to find out more about what you can do!