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Starbucks workers sign petition over employee rights

Starbucks is considering its options to improve worker safety after learning of almost 4,000 signatures on an online petition. Those who signed the petition claim that their employee rights to safe work environments are violated because of exposure to used needles that are discarded in bathrooms. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, workplaces in San Diego and other cities nationwide must be free from recognized safety hazards.

Reportedly, workers have to remove trash cans from the bathrooms as a part of their duties, and they claim that wearing gloves and using tongs for disposing of the used needles does not provide enough protection. They are asking Starbucks to arrange for the installation of needle-disposal boxes in bathrooms. The opioid epidemic has affected businesses nationwide, and both customers and some employees who are battling addictions discard the needles in tampon disposal boxes, bathrooms and diaper changing facilities.

Along with removing known hazards, federal and state safety standards require employers to frequently inspect their premises to identify and address dangerous conditions. They must also warn employees of safety risks they might encounter, and provide adequate personal protective equipment and tools to prevent injuries. Records must be kept of all work-related injuries or illnesses.

California workers who are exposed to hazardous work environments that are not adequately addressed by their employers can consult with a San Diego attorney who is experienced in fighting for employee rights to learn about their options. The lawyer could not only provide the necessary support and guidance to resolve safety issues, but he or she can also assist with the navigation of workers' compensation benefits claims for injured workers. Along with medical expenses, benefits typically also cover lost wages.

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