Six more former AT&T employees sue over call center air quality

By Cara Bailey | Apr 9, 2007

CHARLESTON - Six former employees of AT&T have joined a group of co-workers who are suing the company, claiming poor air quality in a call center made them sick.

Charleston attorney Christopher Luzier filed the separate suits March 22 in Kanawha Circuit Court on behalf of Taneisha Hairston, Jean Ann Lewis, Kristi Maynard, Tina Holley, Lisa Holstein and Patsy Jett.

The suits also name Geary Securities Company, Holcomb Land Company, HLC Developers, Inc., HLC Constructors, Weavertown Environmental Group, Rogina, Inc., and John Does as defendants.

Twenty-three other suits were filed last fall by former AT&T employees.

AT&T operated a call center at One Davis Square in Charleston from August 1987 to July 2002. At any given time, 750 people were employed there.

The lawsuits state the call center had poor indoor air quality, which was a result of significant water intrusion, which permitted the growth and spread of various molds and bacteria around the premises.

The suits claim exposure to the poor indoor air quality caused the plaintiffs to become sick while at work. The suits say the supervisors were told but "failed to take action to determine the cause … of the reported sicknesses."

The suits claim AT&T ignored employee complaints of illness and on numerous occasions assured the employees that One Davis Square provided a "safe and healthful" work environment.

The suit says that in June 2000, there were so many reports from AT&T employees who had or currently were suffering from sickness from the working conditions in the call center that the local authorities ordered the facility closed.

An indoor air quality assessment was planned for One Davis Square, with Rogina, Inc. performing one and Weavertown Environmental Group, with the help of AT&T doing the other assessment, the suits claim.

According to the lawsuits, Rogina, Inc., found more than 100,000 colonies of fungi in the carpet, more than 1 million colonies forming units per gram in one work area, carbon dioxide levels that exceeded 1000 ppm and little dehumidification of outside air.

Weavertown Environmental Group reported they had no observations that would indicate a problem in the building, the suits say.

On July 5, 2000, AT&T wrote to Donna Rigsby, business manager, and adviser her that indoor air quality studies show that "…One Davis Square provides a "safe and healthful environment" for employees, the suits say.

"AT&T knew or should have known by the exercise of reasonable diligence based on the Rogina, Inc., report that One Davis Square was neither 'safe' nor 'healthful' for employees," the suits say.

According to Luzier, AT&T created an unsafe working condition, intentionally exposed workers to the conditions.

In 2002 the call center moved and in 2004, One Davis Square was sold to the State of West Virginia, who started to remodel it and found high concentrations of micro-organisms including…mold in One Davis Square, the suits say.

The employees, through Luzier, claim AT&T is responsible for their illnesses and seek compensatory and punitive damages for medical costs and other sufferings.

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