Michigan Man Files Asbestos Whistleblower Lawsuit Against County

A whistleblower lawsuit has been filed by a former employee of Genesee County in Michigan, who alleges that the county knowingly performed unsafe asbestos work in homes, endangering residents and workers. 

The lawsuit was filed in Genesee County Circuit Court by Ray Barker II, who worked for the Genesee County Community Action Resource Department (GCCARD). Barker says that he was fired after trying to sound the alarm that county workers were uprooting and spreading asbestos during a weatherization project conducted in about 75 homes last year.

The weatherization process took place in some of the poorest sections of Flint, a Michigan city that has been devastated by the decline of the automotive industry. Barker said that GCCARD equipment used during the weatherization process was too powerful, and disturbed asbestos in the old attics, which could then be inhaled by workers and the very residents they were there to help.

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Asbestos was widely used in a variety of manufacturing and construction applications throughout the last century, including home insulation, with use peaking in 1973. Most uses of asbestos were banned in the mid-1980s. When inhaled, asbestos fibers can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. The illnesses have a long latency period, with signs of illness sometimes not showing up for decades.

County officials say Barker was fired after a six month probationary period, during which they deemed him to be “un-coachable.” Steve Walker, executive director of GCCARD, said Barker’s story was false, according to an article in the Flint Journal.


  • DianneJuly 31, 2010 at 11:53 pm

    Here is a link to a tv story on this: http://www.connectmidmichigan.com/news/story.aspx?id=488793

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