Politics

A former maintenance worker for Louisville Metro government is alleging the city routinely cuts corners on electrical work that its employees do in Metro-owned buildings — and that he was fired as retaliation when he brought the problems to his boss’ attention.

Attorneys for Jerry Skinner Jr. filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Jefferson Circuit Court. Skinner, a former Metro Assistant Chief Electrical Inspector and licensed master electrician, says when he was working in Louisville Metro government’s Facilities Department he routinely witnessed employees performing major electrical work. These employees, he said, weren’t licensed to perform the work and did so without getting the permits and inspections required by law.

“As someone who worked as the Assistant Chief Electrical Inspector for Louisville Metro previously, [Skinner] knew those were required by law, you have to get permits, you have to get inspections for this type of work,” said attorney Jeremiah Reece.

“And it wasn’t just the replacement of light bulbs or some other minor repairs or anything like that,” he added. “They were adding new electrical wire to existing structures, they were replacing circuit panel boards and other electrical components and requiring underground wiring, all kinds of complex electrical procedures that have the potential to carry a lot of dangerous properties if they’re not performed correctly.”

Under Kentucky law, workers have to obtain a permit before doing major construction or repair of an electrical system. After the work is done, the electrical system has to be inspected.

According to the lawsuit, Skinner was concerned about the quality of the work being done, and the corners being cut. He allegedly told his superiors about his concerns several times. The lawsuit says when nothing changed, Skinner started requesting his own permits and inspections from Metro’s Department of Codes and Regulations. Three weeks later, he was fired.

Reece said Skinner is seeking a jury trial, damages, and his old job back. And he said there’s a bigger issue at stake: that potentially a lot of the electrical work in city-owned buildings was never permitted or inspected.

“The public is constantly coming into [these buildings] and obtaining services, employees are working in these buildings,” Reece said. “And the existence of uninspected, unpermitted and unlicensed electrical work in these buildings presents an immediate danger because no one knows if the electrical work was actually performed properly or if there were any issues that needed to be considered prior to performing the electrical work.”

A spokesman for Louisville Metro government declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing the pending litigation.

Erica Peterson is WFPL's Director of News and Programming.