Lee v. Dept. of Public Welfare, et al.

).  An office worker was granted a temporary restraining order against smoking in the open area office where she works with approximately 39 other workers, 15 of whom smoke.  Request for preliminary injunction was denied.  A Superior Court judge denied a motion by the employer to dismiss the case, saying that ” . . . an employer has no duty to make the work place safe if, and only if, the risks at issue are inherent in the work to be done.  Otherwise, the employer is required to ‘take steps to prevent injury that are reasonable and appropriate under the circumstances.’ . . . Accordingly, this court cannot say that plaintiff’s claim fails to make out a legally cognizable basis for relief.”  The case was settled in January 1985 when the employer (the Commonwealth of Massachusetts) agreed to provide the plaintiff and the other nonsmoking workers a separate no-smoking area with ventilation separate from the ventilation in the smoking area (in which only four of the 40 workers chose to work).

1.2 TPLR 2.82, No. 15385, (Bristol County, MA, Superior Court 1983).