The State Worker

DMV employees wind up taking extended potty break

DMV Building West in Sacramento, which closed on Friday ahead of the Labor Day weekend while a drain line was repaired.
DMV Building West in Sacramento, which closed on Friday ahead of the Labor Day weekend while a drain line was repaired. Google Earth

What started as a messy bathroom backup at the DMV’s administrative headquarters at Broadway near Highway 99 in Sacramento turned into an extra day off for hundreds of staff on Friday after plumbers discovered a drain line from one building needed repair.

The toilet trauma began Thursday afternoon with a first-floor restroom overflow in Building West, a three-story office facility on the DMV campus where up to 1,000 employees work. Unlike the department’s field offices or call centers, DMW spokesman Jaime Garza said, employees in the building have very little interaction with the public.

In keeping with best practices, Garza said, officials decided to end the work day at 3:30 p.m., “when most employees would have been going home anyway” because they start their shifts early.

Plumbers, a mop-up crew and an industrial hygienist were called in, “and the building has been deemed clean,” Garza said.

But plumbers discovered that tree roots had grown through a main sewage line servicing the 62-year-old building. Repair work commenced Friday and was expected to wrap up Saturday. But in the meantime all the restrooms in the building had to be closed.

That prompted the department to tell rank-and-file workers to take Friday off. It’s not clear how many were affected by the unscheduled bathroom break, Garza said, because some employees had already planned to take leave time ahead of the Labor Day weekend.

Meanwhile, DMV staffed the building with a skeleton crew of managers and supervisors on Friday.

“They could go to restrooms in another building,” Garza said.

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