My wife works at the front desk at a non-profit dental center in Ohio, US. Over the past year, she has complained that the temperature of the office is unusually cold. For a while, my advice to her was to just wear a sweater and try to reason with management, but not to expect a whole lot there, given that the thermostat setting in any workplace is a normal complaint for many.
That was until I visited her at work one day. It is a constant 40-50°F/5-10°C, so cold that I couldn't imagine working in it unless I was doing manual labor.
Here's the situation as far as she's described it:
All employees find the temperature extremely cold, with the exception of two employees who are quite heavyset
One employee has to wear leather gloves, without which her fingers go numb
Management tells employees that the cooling/heating system is old, and they are unwilling to invest any money in repairing it.
Management does not allow personal space heaters or blankets, and employees are limited on the clothing they can wear due to a uniform requirement (no sweatshirts or jackets/coats, only a light sweater).
My wife's described the problem as being so bad that she not only wants to quit, but that the working conditions are contributing to what she believes is depression in herself and some of her coworkers. She is looking for other employment, but nothing so far.
Is there any path for the employees to get this problem fixed, or is this one of those situations where the employer has no real obligations?