A former Largo plumbing inspector is suing the city, claiming that officials violated a law meant to protect whistle-blowers by firing him in retaliation for a complaint he filed with a state agency.
According to the lawsuit, the man’s former bosses conspired to fire him in November after he accused city plans examiners of approving building plans without proper qualifications last summer in complaints to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
The city manager said the 57-year-old was fired based on several instances of misconduct unrelated to the complaint. According to a disciplinary report issued in November, the man improperly completed or didn’t complete building inspections. He also allegedly joked in an email that two city employees were involved in an affair.
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 work in several large projects, including two Walmarts, a Wawa and an apartment complex.
The man filed complaints against four separate employees, according to reports.
To review aspects of a plan such as the electrical or plumbing work, an examiner must have a license in that discipline to ensure the project meets building code. The investigation found that one employee let someone review a plumbing plan on a house in Largo without a plumbing license.
The man hopes his lawsuit prevents any similar issues with his former department.
Blowing the whistle on illegal activities in your workplace is never easy. Sometimes doing the right thing can backfire and lead to retaliation and even termination.