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California state tax building is targeted in lawsuit

State workers have taken legal action against the Board of Equalization, claiming that leaders of the agency new for years that there was a health hazard in the 24-story headquarters, but still continued to tell employees that the building was totally safe.

The lawsuit was filed in Sacramento Superior Court. It stems from mold growth and other issues at the Board of Equalization’s downtown Sacramento building, where approximately 2,200 employees work for the tax-collecting agency.

Anthony Perez, a Sacramento-based attorney, is seeking class-action status for the lawsuit, as well as an unspecified amount of money for the clients he is representing.

Venus Stromberg, a spokeswoman for the Board of Equalization, said that the agency will not comment on pending litigation. The State Department of General Services, which manages the building in question, has long said that the building is completely safe.

However, according to Perez, state officials are “talking out of both sides of their mouths,” by publicly stating that the facility is safe while also issuing a media resource site in October that says the building requires “$40 million for repairs and mediation”, and twice as much funding to relocate operations while extensive repairs are made.

“While they go and ask for funding, they tell their employees the building is safe,” Perez said during a phone interview.

The lawsuit says that officials knew that water was leaking into the structure two years after it opened in 1993. That water damage lead to the growth of toxic mold. The mold caused various types of illnesses in numerous employees. Some of the health problems that employees experienced and that were listed in the lawsuit include “extreme fatigue, skin rashes, persistent flu-like symptoms, serious respiratory illnesses, sinusitis, frequent headaches, mood swings, anxiety, depression, memory lapses, inability to concentrate, chronic joint aches, digestive disorders, nausea, illnesses, diseases, and disorders.”

As per the court filing, management confirmed that there wasn’t a mold issue in the building and that employees were safe.

As concerns among staff who worked at the building grew, the lawsuit stated, members of the board “high-tailed it” to offices in buildings that were in close proximity. The lawsuit also said that the legal department “moved out of the headquarters building to a safe nearby location” and that the former director supposedly “instructed management not to use the ‘M word’, referring to mold.”

A comment made by BOE Chairman Jerome Horton was also cited in the lawsuit. “Even though my lawyers to me not to say this, I don’t think it’s safe,” he said, in reference to the building. The Board of Equalization headquarters has become an unofficial money pit for the state of California, due to a long list of defects, in addition to the widespread mold. These problems included glass panels that would fall without warning, leaking windows, corroded waste pipes, and even an infestation of bats.

Mold Inspection & Testing Sacramento has years of experience performing mold tests in the city and surrounding areas. We strongly suggest that the Board of Equalization arrange for professional mold testing to confirm if mold is present in the building. To speak with an MI&T representative, call 916.905.5391.