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Bed Bugs in the Workplace: Know Your Rights (2022 Updated)

“Don’t let the bed bug bite” is a nursery rhyme we’ve always known for ages but do you know that employers in Ohio have a legal duty to protect employees from bed bug infestation?

Know your rights if you have bed bugs in your workplace rights.  

Bed Bugs Bugging The Workplace 

Bed Bugs Bugging The Workplace 

Bed bug infestation in the workplace can contribute to the loss of productivity, employee morale issues, anxiety, and corporate stigma. Bed bugs are commonly found in sleeping areas, but if bed bugs have infested the workplace, they can easily transfer and inhabit different places. 

Bed bugs are considered nocturnal, but bugs in the workplace usually come out during the day for feeding. There are no humans in the workplace at night, so they feed themselves when their hosts are present. In addition, bed bugs don’t have wings, but they have legs, so they can travel into the workplace through suitcases, shoes, clothes, and laptops. 

7 Things To Know

7 Things To Know

1. Damage Control

One of the employer’s duties is to provide damage control once bed bugs are found in the workplace. However, employees should report bed bug sightings to the management company to deal with the risk swiftly. 

Employees should place all the belongings brought into the workplace in sealable plastic bags and the middle of the room for inspection. When returning home, wash work clothing in the highest temperature setting and if the clothes need dry cleaning, keep them in a sealed plastic bag.  

2. Compensation for Employees

Compensation for Employees

Bed bug bites are merely an annoyance, but they may lead to severe skin infections, allergic reactions, or psychological injuries. If the infestation reaches the management but does nothing to correct it, employers should give a worker’s compensation claim due to negligence. 

Employers can consider assisting employees by offering paid or unpaid leave for employees infested with bed bugs. However, it will not be covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act or Disabilities Act because a bug bite is not a disability. 

Other medical problems that may affect the employees’ health due to infestation may qualify for worker’s compensation benefits. 

3. Anti-Discrimination 

If the employee is allegedly the source of bed bug infestation in the workplace, the employers should be mindful in handling the situation. The employer will be held accountable if the employees involved in the infestation are singled out due to their protected class. 

4. Workers’ Privacy 

Workers' Privacy 

If the employer investigates the employee for being the suspected source of a bed bug, the company has to protect the worker’s privacy. Other employees do not have the right to confront an alleged source of bug infestation and subjectively humiliate them by inspections. 

5. Third-Party Claims

Bed bug infestation relatively increases in every major city in Ohio, and dealing with it takes a lot of time and money [1]. If the employee exposed to bed bugs from the business place infected other parties such as family members, there could be third party claims.

6. Prevention & Sanitation

Prevention & Sanitation

Offices can be transfer hubs where bed bugs can transfer from one place to another. A bug bite can cause a serious health condition, so prevention and sanitation are important to every business place in Ohio. 

Employers and employees have roles to play in reducing infestation, so for prevention, it would be best to limit items taken home from work and change work clothes and even shoes in and out of work. Moreso, keep off the floor any personal items and be vigilant for potential infestations. 

7. OSHA Reports

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a regulatory agency that requires employers to provide a safe environment for workers. You can contact an attorney and file a complaint to OSHA if your employer neglects your infestation report. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandates every employer to provide a safe workplace to the employees, free from hazards and anything that can cause physical harm [2]. 

Where Would Bed Bugs Hide In My Workplace? 

Where Would Bed Bugs Hide In My Workplace? 

  • Bed bugs live on wall crevices and cracks, especially around chairs and upholstered couches.
  • The bed bug is as small as an apple seed so check behind electrical outlets, baseboards, and plush furniture. Watch out for bed bug droppings, too. 
  • Bed bugs can hide on purses, clothes, briefcases, coats, and lockers.
  • If there are employee lounges and break rooms, pay extra attention because they love to infest couches and chairs where human hosts rest or do power naps.

Can I Sue My Employer For Bed Bugs? 

You can sue your employer for bed bugs if they are aware of the infestation but did not take action to resolve it. While most cases are filed against hotels and landlords, employers can be liable for any damages the employees sustain, so with the third parties. 

If the employer fails to notify employees of the infestation, contact an attorney because you can sue your employer. Employees’ failure to act or resolve bug problems may lead to massive infestation outside the office (employee’s home or other properties, for example). 

Related Posts:

How Do I File a Bed Bug Lawsuit in Ohio? 

How Do I File a Bed Bug Lawsuit in Ohio? 

To file a bed bug lawsuit in Ohio, hire an attorney and provide medical records of bug bites, witness statements, and evidence of infestation at work. Provide a copy of the letter or written complaint that the employer was aware of infestations but did not take action to prove your employer’s negligence. 

According to bed bug laws in Ohio, the Environmental Protection Agency has general information about bed bugs, so review it and secure a copy of your official complaint filed with OSHA. 

FAQs 

When can I not sue my employer for bed bugs?

You cannot sue your employer for bed bugs if you got bed bugs outside your workplace, like a hotel or some retail stores near you. Moreso, if your employer managed to inform you that the workplace is infested, but you insisted on going despite warnings, they will not be held liable. 

Can I sue my employer if my co-worker has bed bugs?

Yes, you can sue your employer if your co-worker has bed bugs. Employers are responsible for their employees and establishment, so contact your lawyer and protect your rights. In addition, if found that the employer is aware of your co-workers’ bed bug infestation and intended not to resolve the circumstances, you can file a negligence lawsuit. 

Key Takeaways

It is the job of every employer to provide a safe workplace for every employee. Fortunately, bed bugs in the workplace rights in Ohio can protect every employee from bug bites and infestations.

If there are bed bugs sightings in your office, immediately report it to the management and secure evidence for your rights. While we do not constitute legal advice, you can reach a lawyer or attorney and file your complaints.  

References:

  1. https://www.columbus.gov/publichealth/programs/Healthy-Homes/Bed-Bugs-Information/ 
  2. https://www.osha.gov/aboutosha

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