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12 ON YOUR SIDE

Woman, Employer disagree over firing

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Another healthcare worker is blaming their employer for bedbugs invading their home. This time, a social worker says she was fired for telling co-workers. 12 On Your Side has her story, and why her employer says she was terminated. 

An attorney for her employer tells me, Social Worker Reginia Baker was fired for not showing up for work. Baker saw my recent reports on the Virginia nurse fighting for health care workers injured by bedbugs on the job, and asked for help contacting her. Baker believes bedbugs got her fired. 

"The first time I'd ever seen one, I got it off my client and put it on the floor and I squished it. Blood went everywhere," said Reginia Baker. 

Baker says she was exposed to bedbugs the first month on the job as a social worker at 'The H.U.F Center', a day facility for people needing psychosocial and mental illness services. Checking clients for pests as they entered was one of her duties. 

"I have had to take people outside to get the bedbugs off. I have seen a chair that was infested. The people were coming in with bedbugs. I reported it to my supervisor that I had found a bedbug at my home. We had a meeting," she said. 

Baker says she announced bedbugs had found their way to her home and her employer announced it would not pay to kill bedbugs in her home. So, Baker is spraying herself and has thrown away mattresses and furniture.     

"You putting us in harm's way of catching, taking these bedbugs home and then when we report back to you that we got them from your facility, and you acting like it's not possible when you have seen them in your facility," said Baker. 

I reached out to Baker's supervisor and the executive director. I got a call back from the center's attorney who says: "The HUF Center is not the source of Baker's problem. If it was, they are good people and would step up to take care of it."

The attorney also talked about bi-weekly professional extermination services to kill all pests at the center. He says Baker was fired because she did not show up for work two days and did not tell anyone why. 

"I told my supervisor that I wouldn't be able to come to work because of the bedbugs which she said was ok and I requested a meeting with her supervisor and the director," Baker said. 

At that meeting Baker says the executive director fired her. 

"He also said that he's firing me because I made it public about the bedbugs," she added. 

Baker wants compensation and is now, supporting the nurse who's launched a petition drive calling on lawmakers to cover healthcare workers, injured on the job by bedbugs, under the workers' comp law. To check out the petition online, click here.

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