The State Worker

Jon Ortiz chronicles civil-service life for California state workers

California Board of Equalization hit with $75 million employee lawsuit

08/20/2014 5:35 PM

08/21/2014 9:47 AM

Three state workers are suing the Board of Equalization, aiming to build a $75 million class action case that the agency violated its duty to provide a safe workplace and for years concealed serious work site health hazards from employees.

The lawsuit filed by Sacramento attorney Anthony M. Perez Jr., stems from mold and other defects at the board’s 24-story headquarters in Sacramento where roughly 2,200 employees work for the tax-collecting agency. Perez is seeking class-action status for the lawsuit.

Board spokeswoman Venus Stromberg declined to comment on the pending litigation.

The Sacramento Superior Court lawsuit follows a tort claim that Perez filed with the board last month and launches just ahead of a key vote on legislation that would fund a search for an alternative site to the 450 N St. high rise. Meanwhile, the state auditor anticipates releasing a September report on what it would cost to repair the building.

The 22-year-old Board of Equalization tower has a long history of defects, from leaking windows and faulty elevators to trace amounts of toxic chemicals and exterior glass panels that have popped off the building without warning. Taxpayers have spent over $60 million on repairs so far. Board officials have estimated more repairs to replace the exterior glass, fix a network of corroded plumbing lines and clean mold in the building’s duct work will cost twice that much.

Meanwhile, the state owes more than $70 million in debt on the structure, which CalPERS built for $79.4 million.

The litigation filed Tuesday in Sacramento Superior Court names board tax specialist Jennean Campbell, tax auditor Alisa Edwards and associate tax auditor Racquel Raichart as plaintiffs.

Each has suffered, according to the court filing, “extreme fatigue, skin rashes, persistent flu-like symptoms, serious respiratory illnesses, sinusitis, dermatitis, frequent headaches, mood swings, anxiety, depression, memory lapses, inability to concentrate, chronic joint aches, digestive disorders, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and related symptoms, illnesses, diseases, disorders, immune suppression, and the fear of cancer.”

The lawsuit blames the employees’ poor health on exposure to “toxic mold and other hazardous substances” in the tower.

Class Action BOE

About This Blog

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at jortiz@sacbee.com or 916-321-1043. Twitter: @TheStateWorker.

 

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