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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Former Largo employee files whistleblower lawsuit against the city

21

April

LARGO — A former Largo plumbing inspector is suing the city, claiming that officials violated a law meant to protect whistleblowers by firing him in retaliation for a complaint he filed with a state agency.

The lawsuit, dated April 14, says Glenn Hall’s former bosses conspired to fire him in November after he accused city plans examiners of approving building plans without proper qualifications in a complaint to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation filed last summer.

According to the suit, the unlicensed activity resulted in a 911 call center being inoperable for the first two weeks it was open. It also caused faulty plumbing and electrical wiring in several large projects, including two Walmarts, a Wawa and an apartment complex.

“The plans examiners’ act of approving plans without subjecting said plans to the appropriate review placed the public at risk and cost contractors and the general public money,” the suit said.

The lawsuit calls for damages, injunctive relief, attorney’s fees and costs. It also requests a trial by jury.

During the state investigation, William Ondulich, the city’s top building official, resigned. Carol Stricklin, the department head, was given a five-day, unpaid suspension in November after an internal review found that she failed to inform her superiors of Hall’s findings.

Weeks later, Hall was fired. A disciplinary report said he improperly conducted several building inspections and sent a derogatory email about two employees. Hall has denied the allegations.

When reached by phone Thursday, Hall said he hopes the lawsuit will prove him right and result in action on the city’s part to fix issues in his former department.

“The people that are getting hurt are the contractors and the citizens,” he said. “They’re the ones that ultimately have to pay for it.”

Largo City Manager Henry Schubert could not immediately be reached for comment.

[Last modified: Thursday, April 21, 2016 4:55pm]

    

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