(WSVN) - If your job had mold, what would you do? What would you do if your workplace was a government building funded by taxpayers? Can you be forced to work in dangerous mold? It’s why one South Florida woman called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Listen to Pamela’s voice.
Pamela Easton: “I’m an administrative aide for the City of Fort Lauderdale Public Works Department.”
She says smoking doesn’t make her voice raspy. It’s from working at her job.
Pamela Easton: “It’s mold, toxic.”
Patrick Fraser: “Mold makes your voice raspy?”
Pamela Easton: “Yes.”
This is the Public Works building, and these are pictures that Pamela says have been taken there since 2017.
Pamela Easton: “There’s mold everywhere in the building.”
Pictures of mold on the ceiling, on the doors.
Ironically, the city’s lab to test the drinking water is in the building, and Pamela says there’s mold on its ceiling.
The AC duct work is a problem.
Pamela Easton: “You can actually see mold growing on the ceiling tile, in the air handler room.”
Here is a picture of a chair with mold on it.
Pamela says these envelopes came from her desk.
Pamela Easton: “That’s manila envelopes on my desk with mold on them.”
Mold doesn’t bother some people, but look at Pamela through the years. Her face erupted, her fingers bled.
Pamela says she complained over and over and got various responses.
Pamela Easton: “‘We’re working on it.’ I was referred to as a diva.”
If you came home from work each day and your face was red and swollen, the next question would have to cross your mind.
Patrick Fraser: “Somebody would say, ‘Why don’t you quit like that other lady did?'”
Pamela Easton: “Well, I have 15 years of service with the City of Fort Lauderdale. I have a pension involved.”
In 2021, the city hired a company to investigate the building. Pamela paid another company to test.
Both reports showed a mold problem.
Pamela Easton: “I want to see the problems fixed or the building condemned, whichever.”
In April, Pamela says she gave up complaining to her bosses and spoke to the Fort Lauderdale mayor. She was then moved to another building.
Her face quickly cleared up.
Pamela Easton: “I had daily nose bleeds for three years, and guess what? It all stopped when I moved out of the building.”
But Pamela says she’s speaking out because of her co-workers still in the building.
Pamela Easton: “There are other employees who are getting sick from it, and it’s about time that the city stood up and took responsibility for its neglect.”
Well, Howard, does your employer have to provide a mold-free environment?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Yes, they have to provide a healthy work space. If they don’t, you file a complaint with your boss and the Health Department, and if they still don’t clean up the mess, contact your elected officials. If you get sick, file a workers compensation claim. Not only can you get money and medical bills paid, it gives you whistleblower protection, so your bosses cannot retaliate.”
I contacted Fort Lauderdale. The city manager, Chris Lagerbloom, responded, writing, “Work is underway to replace the HVAC system in the administrative building.”
When I asked why it had taken the city five years, he wrote, “Concerns with the performance of the HVAC began in 2017. The Public Works Department initiated a project to replace the entire system in 2018. A contract was awarded in July 2021 for a total cost of $1,727,907.”
Lagerbloom says work on the facility began in June 2022. The city thinks that will solve the problem.
Pamela is skeptical.
Pamela Easton: “We’ve been hearing the same story since 2017. They fix only what can be seen, and the whole building is full of mold.”
Pamela has now sued the city, because she says years of working in this still affects her.
Pamela Easton: “I have to have sinus surgery because my sinuses are impacted with infection.”
Patrick Fraser: “From?”
Pamela Easton: “[My doctor] suspects the mold toxicity in the building.”
Hope you feel better, Pamela, and give her credit for speaking out for her co-workers. You always hear that the wheels of justice move slowly. A city government taking five years to fix a mold problem is not much quicker.
Had a problem so long it’s growing moldy? Don’t let it dampen your spirits. Contact us, and let us clear the air.
With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.
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