State workers say building is in disrepair, making people ill

Some workers join lawsuit against property manager


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – State workers for agencies like the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Department of Children and Families said one of the Tallahassee buildings they work in is in disrepair and is making people ill.

Some of the workers are now coming forward and joining a lawsuit against the property manager.

Imagine going to work every day, but your workplace is making you physically ill. That’s what some state workers are alleging in a lawsuit they filed against the owners of Northwood Centre.

"Pictures of mold have come into my office, pictures of raw sewage, bat feces," attorney Ryan Andrews said.

Andrews said he's hearing from new workers every day who say the building has been causing them a variety of illnesses. Northwood Centre houses seven different state agencies and employs about 1,500 state workers.

"People are going there every single day and are still very, very sick," Andrews said. "They've exhausted their sick leave and have no other choice but to go to work."

In the latest budget signed by the governor, there's a provision that says the state will no longer make lease payments after July 1.

DBPR secretary Ken Lawson was ordered to stay away from his own office earlier this month, after 10 pounds of bat guano was discovered above his desk.

"They don't really understand why they are not being allowed to work from home. Most, if not all, of the employees can fulfill their duties from home except for a few essential employees," Andrews said.

All of the 1,500 employees in the building will be moving out in the coming months.

Reporter Matt Galka reached out to current employees about their working conditions. Part of a statement released by a spokesman for the building's owners reads, "We have conducted a wide range of environmental tests of Northwood Centre and have found no evidence of widespread issues that would affect public health."