“If mold colonies proliferate indoors, they can cause symptoms including allergic reactions, breathing problems, lung infections and possibly kidney and liver damage in cases of toxic molds.”
By TIFFANY REVELLE The Daily Journal
A county employee who spoke up about a mold problem in the Mendocino County Social Services building on South State Street in Ukiah was put on administrative leave the day after a meeting held to inform employees about the problem.
James Marmon, who has been a social worker with Mendocino County for three-and-a-half years, said he was escorted out of his office at 8 a.m. the day after the meeting.
“I asked how long they knew about (the mold problem),” Marmon said of his participation in the meeting.
State health inspectors started inspecting the county building Monday after a county employee complained about the mold problem in late June, according to Krissann Chasarik, spokeswoman for the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health, known as Cal/OSHA.
The complaint triggered a process that began with letters exchanged between the county and Cal/OSHA and escalated to inspection when the same employee recently reported the steps the county took to correct the problem weren’t adequate.
Marmon said at the July 14 employee meeting to discuss the mold, he asked whether the county had looked behind the sheet rock in the areas concerned.
Chasarik said the original complaint said water had leaked in through the roof during the spring rain and caused mold to grow under the carpet beneath.
Marmon said the building leaked before he started working there in 2007, and has poor ventilation. The floor mat under his desk and some of his colleagues’ floor mats had red Xs on them for weeks before the county told them why, he said.
The county didn’t tell Marmon why he was placed on paid administrative leave, according to a retaliation complaint Marmon filed with the state Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.
Marmon wrote he was “only told that I was under investigation.” He continued, “It is a means of intimidation to stop me from testifying and leading others to testify.”
The county was also investigating a separate harassment complaint Marmon made, but letters he received concerning that complaint imply Marmon isn’t under investigation.
Marmon said he had been experiencing extreme fatigue in recent weeks, and knew of several other employees who had experienced health problems.
“It’s like the walking wounded in there,” he said. “The employees are disgusted.”
Marmon said when he brought up prior complaints about the ventilation and mold during the July 14 meeting, he was told there had been no other complaints.
Jacqueline Carvallo of SEIU Local 1021 said the union is aware of the mold problem, and confirmed several county employees in the building have filed workers’ compensation claims.
“There have been respiratory concerns, and one employee complained of nose bleeds,” Carvallo said.
She said the county Buildings and Grounds Division was monitoring air quality and shampooing the carpets.
“The original complaints may have been marginalized,” she said. “Until someone takes a stand you sometimes don’t realize how severe the problem is.”
Cal/OSHA’s investigation continues, according to Chasarik. The results are expected after the inspection concludes later in the week, she said.
Cal/OSHA enforces state workplace safety laws. If the state inspectors find mold, they could take actions ranging from ordering the county to correct the problem to shutting down the area if it’s deemed an imminent hazard, Chasarik said.
According to the Cal/OSHA website, mold reproduces through the production of spores, tiny, airborne cells that settle on moist places.
If mold colonies proliferate indoors, they can cause symptoms including allergic reactions, breathing problems, lung infections and possibly kidney and liver damage in cases of toxic molds.
No one at the county Social Services Department or the county Human Resources Department returned phone calls on this issue.
Thank You National Apartment Association. I will do my best to get this very important information out ASAP to numerous owners, investors, huge property management companies (e.g., Riverstone Residential), attorneys, and judges, AND, of course, to the MANY people who are currently living in MOLD-INFESTED APARTMENT COMPLEXES right now! katy
Political Action Committee – National Apartment Association (NAA) files Amicus Brief in mold case (two infant deaths in mold filled apt – Wasatch Prop Mgmt) citing US Chamber/ACOEM ‘litigation defense report’ to disclaim health effects of indoor mold & limit financial risk for industry
“Changes in construction methods have caused US buildings to become perfect petri dishes for mold and bacteria to flourish when water is added. Instead of warning the public and teaching physicians that the buildings were causing illness; in 2003 the US Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform, a think-tank, and a workers comp physician trade organization mass marketed an unscientific nonsequitor to the courts to disclaim the adverse health effects to stave off liability for financial stakeholders of moldy buildings. Although publicly exposed many times over the years, the deceit lingers in US courts to this very day.”
Sharon Noonan Kramer
Information about Riverstone Residential, the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency, and the owners of Jefferson Lakes Apartments in Baton Rouge, Louisiana allowing tenants to be exposed to extreme amounts of toxins from molds by intentionally concealing evidence
Irrefutable evidence indicates that Riverstone Residential, Guarantee Service Team of Professionals, & plaintiffs’ attorney, J Arthur Smith III, must have agreed to exclude evidence that would have shown the owners of Jefferson Lakes Apartments & Riverstone Residential had knowledge of the severe MOLD INFESTATION at the complex before we moved in