A Texas newspaper is in hot water with OSHA after firing a whistleblower who complained about an insect infestation in the workplace.
The Killeen Daily Herald is being sued by OSHA for allegedly firing a reporter after they told management they believed fleas had infested the workplace, leaving them with bug bites.
OSHA conducted a whistleblower investigation and has since filed suit against the newspaper, which is owned by Frank Mayborn Enterprises Inc., finding the company violated federal whistleblower laws.
Bug bites lead to complaint
According to the agency, the reporter sent messages to company management in May and June 2021 complaining about the infestation and bug bites. The reporter had the bugs examined and found they were an insect called biting midges. After sharing this information with the newspaper’s management, the company terminated the reporter.
OSHA filed its lawsuit Aug. 29 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas alleging the Killeen Daily Herald fired the reporter for engaging in protected activity. The agency asked the court to order the newspaper to:
- reinstate the reporter
- pay back wages, interest, compensatory and punitive damages, and
- expunge the employee’s personnel record.