Occupational Safety & Health
Attending Rutgers Law School in Newark, NJ---then referred to as "The Electric People's Law School---one of Peter's earliest passions was Occupational Safety and Health. Peter was mentored by Professor Al Blumrosen, who agreed to have Pete organize a seminar series on workplace health. This led to an article, Alfred W. Blumrosen, Donald M. Ackerman, Julie Kligerman & Peter van Schaick, Injunctions against Occupational Hazards: The Right to Work under Safe Conditions, 64 Calif. L. Rev. 702 (1976). The paper argued that there is a common law duty under state law to provide a safe place to work and injunctions are available to control nuisances. Their collaboration ultimately led to the landmark case, Shimp v. New Jersey Bell Tel. Co., 145 N.J.Super. 516, 368 A.2d 408 (Ch. Div. 1976), which upheld a trial court injunction ordering New Jersey Bell to provide a safe workplace by banning smoking in offices and limiting smoking to its non-work lunch room). In his first three years of legal practice, Peter enforced employment laws as a general attorney for the New York Regional Solicitor's Office of the U.S. Department of Labor, specializing in the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
Shortly before his death, Peter was excited to see advocates--like those at Public Justice's Food Project--rediscovering this body of law to seek injunctions against employers who order employees to work during the COVID-19 pandemic without appropriate pandemic management.