Department of Labor Logo OSHA News Release - Region 6


March 16, 2023

 

Federal investigation orders church to pay back wages, reinstate employee fired for raising concerns about rodents, insects in childcare center

Whistleblower probe finds New Mount Zion Baptist Church acted illegally

DALLAS – After a nutrition specialist employed at a Dallas childcare facility raised concerns about rodents, spiders and other insects in its cafeteria, kitchen and other areas, their employer acted far from charitably and terminated the worker in August 2021.

After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the employee's allegation that New Mount Zion Baptist Church – operator of the childcare center – wrongfully fired them, the agency has ordered the employer to reinstate the nutrition specialist and to pay them back wages, interest and compensatory damages.

OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Programs in Dallas determined that the church violated the Food Safety Modernization Act when it illegally terminated 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 OSHA Regional Administrator Eric S. Harbin in Dallas. “The existence of rodents and insects in food preparation and serving areas poses a health hazard. The employee had the legal right to express apprehensions about the unhygienic surroundings 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 for more than 2,500 members. It also operates a credit union and childcare facility.   

Read OSHA's findings.

Learn more about OSHA's Whistleblower Protection Programs.

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Editor's note: The U.S. Department of Labor does not release the names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.

 

Media Contacts:

Juan J. Rodríguez, 972-850-4709, rodriguez.juan@dol.gov
Chauntra Rideaux, 972-850-4710, rideaux.chauntra.d@dol.gov

Release Number: 23-473-DAL