Court Says Worker Must Prove Coworker Was a Danger

March 10, 2009 ( - The U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut dismissed a case brought by a former employee who says he was fired for complaining about an unsafe work environment, saying he must show more proof he was in danger.

The court pointed out that a Connecticut Supreme Court decision required employers “to exercise reasonable care to provide for [their] servants a reasonably safe place in which to work,” and provided grounds for a wrongful discharge claim when an at-will employee is fired for refusing to work in conditions posing an “objectively substantial risk of death, disease or serious bodily injury.”

However, it ruled that Cesar Ferrer’s allegations that a co-worker threw a punch at him and missed, and that the co-worker assaulted another employee about a year earlier, were not enough to satisfy the “stringent standard” set forth by the state’s high court. “His claim would be adequately pleaded if he alleged that the co-worker had a known propensity for violence and specifically threatened him with serious bodily harm,” U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny wrote in his opinion.

The court dismissed Ferrer’s case, but gave him 21 days to file an amended complaint.

The court’s opinion is  here .