Sonoma State to pay $2.3 million for health and safety violations

4 Oct 2017 by under News

Sonoma State University Seal 100x100 Sonoma State to pay $2.3 million for health and safety violationsCalifornia’s Sonoma State University will pay employees potentially exposed to asbestos and other toxins due to occupational health and safety violations, a judge ordered at the end of last month.

Employees will split a portion of the $2.3 million penalty the school faces for its environmental violations, according to The Press Democrat. The penalty is in addition to the $387,000 awarded in March to former employee turned Thomas Sargent for raising concerns about asbestos in crumbling floor and ceiling tiles in Stevenson Hall, one of the campus’ original buildings.

The 231 employees of Stevenson Hall will split about $725,000 of the penalty, amounting to $3,100 per employee, according to the news source. The university must also rehire Sargent as environmental health and safety specialist and pay him two years back wages. “We are happy that between the judge and the jury, these violations have been exposed,” said Dustin Collier, an attorney for Sargent. “The university can no longer deny their existence. We are hopeful this will be a catalyst for change.”

As MyMeso previously reported, Sargent raised the alarm over how the school ordered employees to blow lead off a roof with a leaf blower and contacted environmental authorities when asbestos dust was found in Stevenson Hall. For those actions, he claimed in his lawsuit he faced retaliation at work and eventually felt he had to quit in July 2015 after 24 years with the school.

The University will appeal the decision and released a statement saying it is “optimistic that the appeal will be successful.”

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