New ordinance lets people report hotel mold problems
Union workers rallied near a downtown hotel Tuesday in support of a worker who said he was fired for reporting mold. The man worked for the Anchorage Hilton. He said he was let go after he gave photos of mold in the hotel to Union heads. A manager at the Hilton says the worker was not fired for any whistleblowing activity but instead for serious misconduct.
It's not clear if the worker would have been protected by a new ordinance passed last week by the Anchorage Assembly, but Assemblyman Eric Croft said he sponsored the ordinance in part to make it easier to report mold problems in hotels. The ordinance includes protections for people who report the problem to the City Health Department, the agency now charged with investigating hotel mold complaints.
"We do protect reports to the Health Department," said Croft. "So if people out there see that in a hotel, they're a visitor and see it or an employee that sees it, they should have the right to make that report and have no consequences because of it."
Croft said he doesn't know how widespread the mold problem is, and the Health Department won't be looking for it. Workers will only respond to complaints and the mold must be deemed "significant" before action is taken. The Department will have the ability to level fines if hotels don't address the problem in a timely manner.
City Health workers said they are still determining the standards they will use in deciding how much mold is too much. The ordinance takes effect 30 days from when it passed the Anchorage Assembly on October 10.