Federal Investigation Orders Church To Refund Salaries, Reinstate Employee Fired For Raising Concerns About Rodents, Bugs At Children’s Center
DALLAS – After a nutrition specialist employed at a Dallas child care facility raised concerns about rodents, spiders and other insects in his cafeteria, kitchen and other areas, their employer took action that was anything but than charitable and fired the worker in August 2021.
After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration into an employee’s allegation that the New Mount Zion Baptist Church — the children’s center — had wrongfully fired them, the agency ordered the employer to reinstate the nutrition specialist and pay him back wages, interest and damages.
OSHA whistleblower protection programs in Dallas ruled that the church violated the Food Safety Modernization Act when it wrongfully fired the employee in retaliation for exercising their protected rights to report unsafe and unhealthy conditions.
“New Mount Zion Baptist Church’s actions toward the employee are unacceptable and deeply concerning,” said Eric S. Harbin, regional administrator for OSHA in Dallas. “The existence of rodents and insects in food preparation and serving areas poses a health hazard. The employee had a legal right to express concern about the unhygienic environment and should not have been fired for doing so.
Founded in 1946, New Mount Zion Baptist Church is a faith-based community ministry that provides in-person and online worship services to more than 2,500 members. It also operates a credit union and childcare facility.
Read the OSHA results.
Learn more about OSHA’s whistleblower protection programs.