What are my rights if I attempted to complete an unrealistic physical task directed by my supervisor and experienced a heart attack?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What are my rights if I attempted to complete an unrealistic physical task directed by my supervisor and experienced a heart attack?

I’m a retail store manager. I have a new supervisor who gave me directive of clearing out a stockroom located on a lower level. During the time after this direction, our elevator was closed due to mechanical and safety issues. My supervisor still wanted the job completed. My Asst. Manager and I began pulling pallets of merchandise outside, up a hill and around building to reenter on main floor. During the unloading of the second pallet I experienced a heart attack. Is the supervisor and/or company liable?

Asked on April 26, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, they are not liable. People do not have heart attacks only from exertion: if they did, not only would your Asst. Manager have also had a heart attack from helping you, but people would be experiencing heart attacks right and left in the construction and shipping industries, when playing tennis or lifting weights or jogging, etc. A heart attack is due to an underlying physical condition or predisposition and the employer is in no way responsible for that; therefore, they are not responsible for the heart attack.

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