LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Metro government let unqualified workers do electrical work in city buildings, resulting in systems that don’t meet local and state standards and pose a “significant risk to the safety” of people there, a former city employee alleges in a whistleblower lawsuit.
Jerry Skinner Jr. claims in the suit filed Wednesday in Jefferson Circuit Court that he was fired as a maintenance supervisor in the city’s facilities division in April after he raised concerns about electrical work.
In particular, Skinner claims the facilities division has assigned “substantial electrical installations” to workers who aren’t licensed under Kentucky law, as is required. The city also has failed to follow local ordinances and obtain permits for electrical work, then have it inspected and approved, according to the lawsuit.
“Jerry Skinner was performing a public service by trying to ensure that Metro’s buildings were not plagued by unlawful and dangerous electrical work,” Jeremiah W. Reece, Skinner’s attorney, said in a statement. “And for Mr. Skinner’s commitment to the safety of his coworkers and fellow Louisvillians, his reward from Metro was being shown quickly to the door.”
The Jefferson County Attorney’s Office, which represents the city in civil litigation, did not immediately comment on the suit.
A licensed master electrician, Skinner worked for the city’s codes and regulations department from 2008 to 2016, then moved to Kentucky state government as a state electrical inspector, according to the lawsuit. He returned to Metro government in early January 2018.
Skinner says in the lawsuit that he told his supervisors that work by unlicensed employees done at several locations – such as replacing breaker panels at Metro Hall and City Hall – ran afoul of state laws and local ordinances, as did the facilities division’s failure to get permits and conduct inspections.
But his supervisors “displayed little concern,” and instead deferred to a “previously asserted and inaccurate claim” by city facilities director Cathy Duncan that her division wasn’t required to secure permits or have inspections for electrical work, the lawsuit says.
After the division took no action, Skinner claims he took steps to begin obtaining permits on his own. Then, on April 12, Skinner was fired for failing to finish his probationary period that was to end in July, according to the lawsuit.
Skinner alleges the city violated the Kentucky Whistleblower Act by firing him after he brought alleged wrongdoing to light; and wrongfully fired him after he refused to violate a law while working. Among other requests, he is seeking a jury trial and unspecified monetary damages, and asking Metro government to re-hire him.
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