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Dozens of whistleblowers accuse businesses of not following mayor’s order

Business noncompliance complaints come in as Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry reinforces social distancing

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As Jacksonville’s mayor doubles down on his calls for social distancing, he’s sticking by an executive order telling whoever can work from home to do so.

The city of Jacksonville is compiling a list of complaints about companies that may not be complying.

The News4Jax I-TEAM requested and received the list of whistleblower complaints from people who have called the ethics or general city hotlines to report businesses possibly not following the order.

As of 3 p.m. Wednesday, 44 Duval County businesses were on the list, including ADT Security, UPS, Fortegra, Ja-Ru Inc. toy company, Merrill Lynch and Bank of America. (See the statements from those companies below.) Among the claims made by whistleblows, which have not been verified by the city, were employees not being allowed to work from home, not given cleaning supplies and not keeping a distance of at least 6 feet.

News4Jax recorded video around lunchtime Wednesday showing employees at a Southside office park close together, ordering from a food truck with no apparent social distancing here. The building is occupied, in part, by Digital Risk, which is on the list.

News4Jax recorded video around lunchtime Wednesday showing employees at a Southside office park close together, ordering from a food truck with no apparent social distancing here.
News4Jax recorded video around lunchtime Wednesday showing employees at a Southside office park close together, ordering from a food truck with no apparent social distancing here. (WJXT)

The list shows Digital Risk’s supervisor allegedly said compliance with the order is optional. News4Jax attempted to contact Digital Risk for comment, but the phone number didn’t work.

“The first step is to encourage these people to be reasonable and follow that order,” Mayor Lenny Curry said in a Zoom news conference Wednesday morning. “We don’t want to end up in a place of condemnation.”

He continued asking citizens to be careful, threatening to shut off utilities or condemn the properties of companies not complying with his executive order, which says people who can work from home should and those who can’t must keep a safe distance from others.

“These things are being cataloged right now and then determine which cases needed to followed up on,” Curry noted.

RELATED | Mayor Curry could condemn businesses who violate work-at-home order

Amazon was also on the list after News4Jax reported one employee has a confirmed COVID-19 case. Staff members there told the I-TEAM they’re asking for the center to be shut down and cleaned from top to bottom before reopening.

Despite the claims, Curry pointed out that they are just allegations and not proven to be actually happening. He said the city has not cited or shut down any businesses or organizations due to violations.

“Just because a complaint comes in doesn’t necessarily mean an employer isn’t complying,” said Curry, who noted in Amazon’s case, the operation would not be able to continue if all employees worked from home.

Those wishing to file a complaint on a Jacksonville business’ violations can call 904-630-CITY.

Statements

Click here to view the update posted online by ADT on maintaining the safety of customers and employees during the COVID-19 health crisis.

When News4Jax called Fortegra, which is headquartered in Jacksonville, no one answered the phone. The following statement was posted on its website:

“At Fortegra, the health, safety, and wellbeing of our producers and administrators are of equal concern. As such, Fortegra is currently following the recommended CDC guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19 in our offices, device repair/replacement facility, and various call centers. We will be conducting all business by phone and email for the time being, rescheduling any in-person meetings to later dates as needed. Your usual points of contact remain available to support your programs.”

UPS provided the following statement:

"As always, our highest priority is to help ensure the health and safety of our employees, customers, and suppliers while meeting our service commitments. Here’s what you can expect from us:

  • "Constant monitoring of our air and ground networks to address potential sources of disruption in our air and ground networks.
  • "Compliance with applicable government regulations related to the containment of Coronavirus.
  • "Careful guidance and information being provided to our staff across the globe regarding the best ways to prevent the spread of infection, based on guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) and, within the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Please also see the FAQ below.
  • "Ability to track your deliveries worldwide on UPS.com.
  • “Where available, you can sign up for the free UPS My Choice which enables you to provide more specific delivery instructions such as where to leave deliveries, where to redirect them and the ability to receive delivery notifications.”

Click here to view the FAQs on the UPS website.

Merrill Lynch and Bank of America provided the following statement:

“Amid news about the coronavirus (COVID-19), we are committed to doing everything we can to meet your banking and investing needs. We’re here for you with the solutions, support, and advice you need to manage your personal finances and to navigate the volatility of the market. We will continue to devote all necessary resources to help ensure your personal safety, while maintaining all of the services you count on. And as new developments emerge, we will share information with you about how we continue to operate safely and effectively.”

When News4Jax called Ja-Ru Inc., a receptionist answered, but the manager was in a meeting, so a voicemail was left. News4Jax had no received a response as of Monday evening.


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