City of Largo employee fired after filing complaints with state

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A former employee with the city of Largo says the city's building department is putting the public at risk and that he was fired for reporting his concerns to the state.

Building inspector Glenn Hall told the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation that the city has been using unlicensed employees to sign off on construction plans, causing major delays and potential safety issues.

The department couldn't comment, but FDBPR documents obtained by FOX 13 indicate they began investigating the licensure of several employees in July.

On Monday, Hall was given notice that his eight years with the city of Largo had come to an end.

Florida's "Whistleblower’s Act" makes it illegal for public agencies to retaliate against employees who speak up when they believe something illegal is going on. But Hall says that's what happened.

Documents provided by the city show he was terminated for allegedly using threatening language toward a supervisor in September.

Hall denies that, but says there was a heated conversation after he had been pressured to sign off on a permit that wasn't up to code, and he refused.

Hall says he believes he was fired for speaking up about practices that he thinks could put the public at risk.    

"There only has to be one risk," Hall said. "There only has to be one person that gets contaminated water ingested and die from it."

Hall says underground plumbing had to be ripped out at a local Walmart that was under construction after he determined that a city employee had approved plans that weren't correct.  He says the same thing happened at a Wawa built in the same shopping center.

"After I had to make Wawa tear their plumbing out, I went back to Robert [Hatton], who examined the plans," Hall recalled. "I said, 'Robert, this isn't right. This is what's wrong.' He says, 'You see this?' And he circled his face. He says, ‘It looks like I care, but I don't.'"

Hatton, the city's assistant building official, declined to interview. He is one of the employees at the center of the state investigation, according to FDBPR documents.

Largo building official Bill Ondulich was also listed in the Hall's complaint. Ondulich resigned last week. A city spokesperson was not immediately able to provide the reasons for his departure.

Hall plans to fight his dismissal.