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Prohibiting beverages? Ohio

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  • Prohibiting beverages? Ohio

    I work for a big box retailer in Ohio. Management in my store has decided to prohibit beverages of any kind (including water) from the sales floor. There is a drinking fountain on the far end of the store but when it is busy, there are hours at a time when it is not possible to make the trip there. Is this against some regulation or is the mere presence of the water fountain enough?

  • #2
    I'm not aware of any law that requires an employer to allow beverages, even water, on the sales floor. Hopefully our OSHA expert will weigh in later.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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    • #3
      If there is any violation, I believe you're right, it would fall under OSHA.

      Perhaps a little more elaboration...
      Saturday night a manager went around the store with a trash bag searching desks, cabinets, etc. for any drinks or food, throwing away anything he could find. He even threw away a coworker's medicine. We were then told beverages on the sales floor were prohibited, including water. UNLESS you are a cashier. They are allowed to have beverages.

      I'm unclear on a couple of things. First, to what extent do they have to provide access to water? If I am thirsty every 15 minutes, am I allowed to make the trip to the other end of the store? And second, is prohibiting something for all but cashiers questionable?

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      • #4
        If you are thirsty every 15 minutes, you need to see your doctor. I'm not being a smart-***; I'm serious. If there is a MEDICAL condition that would fall under the ADA that is causing you to be thirsty that often, and there are some, your employer would have to accomodate it, but they are entitled by law to medical confirmation of it.

        However, it is legal to differentiate between types of positions so no, it is not legally questionable to allow cashiers to have water at their stations and no one else.
        The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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        • #5
          The law is that clean drinking water must be accessible. If there is a water fountain in the store, then water is accessible to you. There are additional requirements if the environment is a hot one where water is necessary for safety, but if you're working in a big box retailer I would assume that you are working in an air-conditioned environment.

          At a guess, I would say that the reason cashiers may keep water at their stations is that they are not allowed to leave those stations and move freely about the store in the same way that salespeople can. The law does not require that all employees be treated equally. It says that employees cannot be treated differently on the basis of a protected characteristic (such as age, race, gender, and so forth).

          And, I agree that if you are thirsty every 15 minutes, you should consult a doctor.
          I am not able to respond to private messages. Thanks!

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          • #6
            Lol...no I am not thirsty every 15 minutes, it was just an example.

            Thanks for the help!

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            • #7
              I would just add a comment - as an occasional retail customer. I wish more stores would implement a similar policy. It makes for a less pleasant purchasing experience if the sales person is holding a water bottle and taking a drink occasionally while I am trying to get information about an item. There certainly could be some middle ground, but I can see where it is easier for management of this store to ban all liquids from the sales floor, than to establish and enforce a set of rules under which liquids are to be handled and consumed.
              Please post questions on the forum rather than sending me a private message or email. That way others who have similar issues have access to the discussion.

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              • #8
                Before people toted water around with them constantly as is common today, I worked in both a retail and hosptial setting (years ago). In neither case were we allowed to have beverages of any kind (including water) on the floor or our desk area. We managed fine. In fact, many businesses prohibited liquids around computers for the longest time and everyone managed.

                Its just because people have become so used to drinking a sip here and there that it seems almost impossible to imagine being without it.

                Not OSHA covered and I agree, I hate waiting in a retail setting while someone is chugging their drink.
                I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.
                Thomas Jefferson

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                • #9
                  And I'm guessing the reason is safety-related. Spill liquid on the sales floor and you or a customer could slip, be injured, and cost the company a LOT of money.
                  Last edited by Pattymd; 09-08-2009, 04:44 AM.
                  I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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                  • #10
                    Not to mention equipment-related. My part time job still allows beverages at the desk but only covered or capped ones; that's because of my co-workers spilled his coffee on the credit-card machine and shorted it out so badly it couldn't be repaired, and we had to do all credit cards manually for three weeks.
                    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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                    • #11
                      It is very easy to knock over an uncovered drink at your desk. You usually have so much on your desk.
                      Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

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