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Dallas Church Must Reinstate, Pay Back Wages to ‘Wrongfully Fired’ Employee, OSHA Says

The employee was terminated after raising concerns about conditions at a childcare facility.

A nutrition specialist employed by a church was “wrongfully fired” in 2021, but now, more than a year and a half later, OSHA said the employer must reinstate them and pay back wages.

The specialist, who worked for a childcare facility run by New Mount Zion Baptist Church in Dallas, “raised concerns about rodents, spiders and other insects in its cafeteria, kitchen and other areas” before being terminated in August 2021, per a news release.

On March 16, 2023, OSHA announced that it found New Mount Zion Baptist Church in violation of the Food Safety Modernization Act and is requiring the employee to be paid “back wages, interest and compensatory damages," the agency said. The church must also reinstate the employee.

“New Mount Zion Baptist Church's actions toward the employee are unacceptable and deeply concerning,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Eric S. Harbin in Dallas in the news release.

“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,” Harbin continued.

About the Author

Alex Saurman is the Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety.

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