5

For over a month employees and children have been bitten at the daycare center where I work. They cannot figure out where the bites are coming from but they look like insect bites. There is also a disgusting smell in parts of the daycare.

Employer says they are working on it. They say they've hired an exterminator but they won't tell us what the problem is and have said they don't know. The smell is coming from the broken trash compactor but financial problems prevent employer from buying new compactor.

On one hand I understand this not-for-profit employer is having financial problems and am afraid the daycare will close.

On the other, employers act as if they don't care, they've never apologized or say they are sorry, they tell employees to go to the doctor (These are not high paying jobs and co-pay is $50). They do not care about the children or the workers because they are in such financial debt. It is not our fault they have had poor money management and have allowed themselves to be drowning in debt.

I can't stand being bitten anymore. What can I do to force my employer to take care of this?

  • 5
    If your employer, a daycare, is so in debt that they can't afford to care about the safety of their children, then you should be already looking for a new job. – David K Aug 18 '16 at 19:53
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    If it is a day care, maybe you can get the parents to become upset. Be a whistle blower, and inform the parents by way of putting a letter in a book bag along with pictures. – Dan Aug 18 '16 at 19:56
  • 11
    update your resume, find another job, call the board of health and OSHA – Retired Codger Aug 18 '16 at 20:03
  • Who said they don't know what the problem is, the employer or the exterminator? – colmde Aug 19 '16 at 7:41
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The other answers address how this affects the children (which are obviously most important) but I would like to address how this affects you directly.

While I'm not a lawyer, I see a potential for liability here. In most areas of our lives, failure to report a health problem isn't that big a deal. Bugs in the restaurant where you work, nobody is going to do anything to you if you don't report it. But all of this changes when children are involved. What might otherwise be dismissed suddenly comes under much greater scrutiny.

You haven't said what your role is at this daycare either. From what I know about daycare centers, I'll assume you're a caregiver. As such, you bear a higher responsibility than some passer-by for the welfare of the children in your care.

Think about this for a minute. Depending on what's doing the biting, some of these children could get really sick. And if a child has an allergy or auto-immune condition that nobody knows about, the child could actually die. I'm not exaggerating. Suppose that happens and suppose that child is directly under your care. How are you going to answer, "since you knew about these bites and knew your employer wasn't doing anything about them, why did you not report it?"

You need to do a few things:

  1. You need to contact the local health department. Since there is vermin involved, this is clearly a public health issue.
  2. You need to call Child Protective Services (depending on your state this could be Family Services, Social Services or something similar). You might think I'm overreacting and as a parent I truly loathe the idea of calling CPS but I'm not. This is a separate issue from a health issue. The health issue is about everyone getting bitten and the infestation. The issue I'm talking about here is that the children are being neglected and harmed through the negligence of your employers. And unless you do what you can to stop it, you are a party to it. As a practical matter, reporting also demonstrates that you're actively trying to protect the children.
  3. You need to start looking for a new job immediately after you do 1 and 2. First of all, you don't want to work for someone who doesn't care about their employees and especially about the children under their care. Second, they are probably going to go out of business due to mounting debt and you don't want to find yourself suddenly out of work. Third, if you do 1 and 2, hopefully they'll go out of business because of negligence.
  4. When you find work, if nothing's been done from 1 and 2, you should tell the parents. You no longer would have a responsibility to your employer and parents need to know.

You need to protect the children but you need to protect yourself too. You don't want to be caught up in any firestorm that results from this place's negligence and you also don't want to resist being accused of negligence yourself.

I too am very sorry. But this is more than just what's good for you or your workplace, even though that's what this site is about. From where I sit it's about right and wrong. You can choose to stay or go, the children must go where they're told and they shouldn't be made to suffer by your employer's inaction or possibly their parents own negligence (if they know about the bites and keep placing their child there).

  • Yeah, I see now that the question is significantly different now. I'd put the rat references because she seemed concerned because of what her employer told her about uncontrolled rats. – Chris E Aug 19 '16 at 14:25
  • I would like to point that it is strange to trigger auto-immunity with a bite. It is more common to get new diaeases or viruses with bugs bite. – llrs Aug 19 '16 at 18:58
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If kids are being bitten then it's very serious. Go to a doctor, find out what is biting you. If it's fleas inform your boss and coworkers. If you're being bitten by rodents, inform them as well. But go to the doctor and find out first, because if it turns out to be your new washing powder irritates your skin.....

If nothing is done about it straight away after providing proof, then alert the authorities and look for a new job.

The smell issue isn't so serious, but the biting is a recipe for disaster and you don't want to be caught up in it out of apathy.

  • 1
    The smell could be a sign of mold or some bacterial infestation, which could be just as bad as being bitten. – David K Aug 18 '16 at 19:58
  • or could be a dead rat stuck in the wallspace or a number of other things, less of an urgent issue to my mind. – Kilisi Aug 18 '16 at 20:00
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Unfortunately all you can do is involve your local health department. The facility will be closed, though, until changes are made. And then you risk your job if you are found out.

Sucks.

  • 3
    But better than a kid getting an infection from a rat bite... – Myles Aug 18 '16 at 19:40
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    And better than kid's parents then suing the daycare for negligence. – David K Aug 18 '16 at 19:41
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    And when you do this, start looking for a new job because you are most likely going to need one. – HLGEM Aug 18 '16 at 19:53
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    No one is being bitten by rats, employer said city is not controlling rats. As far as I know exterminator cannot find problem. Employees & children have bites and they cannot figure out where they are coming from. – Kathy Aug 18 '16 at 20:16
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    Any picture of the bites? You may be able to identify potential sources of them, which could help you isolate the problem. – Thebluefish Aug 18 '16 at 21:34

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