New Jersey’s Supreme Court has ruled that companies can be held responsible for harm to household members when an employee brings home toxic workplace material on clothing.
The justices expanded a previous decision that limited take-home toxic-tort liability to cases involving a worker’s spouse.
New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel said Wednesday the ruling is a significant environmental victory.
“Oh, it’s a big deal because the state still has a lot of hazardous or toxic facilities, whether it’s a refinery or a chemical plant or a wood fabricating facility or ceramics,” Tittel said. “We want to make sure that the families at home are safe.”
Tittel said he expects the ruling will prompt factories to put more safeguards in place, such as onsite laundering, to make sure employees don’t track toxins home.
“For far too long, workers in facilities with hazardous chemicals end up bringing those chemicals home and impacting their families,” he said. “Whether it’s just what falls off into the home and the kids end up touching or breathing it in or the spouse doing laundry … it’s had a lot of health impacts over the years.”