A Mesa woman was forced to quit her job after working for a month in an environment with no air conditioning.
Cindy Desilets worked at iPacesetters, a call center that employed about 200 people. Though management insisted that they were working to fix a broken air conditioner in the facility, Desilets said no improvements were ever made to the unbearable working conditions that landed her in urgent care.
“I was weak, I was nauseous, had a hard time breathing. On Thursday it was just plain hot in there, I couldn’t take it anymore,” she said.
Her doctor wrote her a note excusing her from work, explaining that the extreme heat was detrimental to her health. Eager to return to work, Desilets called the office every day to find out if conditions had changed.
One day, HVAC crews showed up to work on the roof, but the air conditioner failed once again after working for only a short period of time.
Finally, Desilets filed a complaint with the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) before walking into work and quitting her job.
Another employee told Desilets that the building was for sale, and the current owner did not want to repair the air conditioner even though the buyer did not want to purchase a facility with a broken HVAC system. As a result, the company’s employees were caught in the middle.
“It’s the employees who suffer,” said Desilets. “They’re the ones who have to work in the heat and in these conditions. The people buying and selling, they don’t care.”
Local ABC affiliate, ABC15 visited the facility on Friday and were promptly asked to leave by management. However, several employees told reporters that the call center was unbearably hot.
One man said, “It’s just so hot and unbearable in there we have to be there to make up hours. We have families to take care of.”
Another employee admitted that five or six people had actually become sick due to the extreme temperatures.
Management had placed two large fans in the facility, but employees said that it wasn’t enough. One man added that the heat was making it hard to concentrate and make sales since working conditions were so uncomfortable.
Finally, Paul Trulli, the director of operations for the call center, agreed to talk to ABC15. He said that the company was just leasing the building and that they were arguing with their landlord to fix the air conditioning system. He said that the company had already spent close to $5,000 of their own money attempting to fix the system, but it wasn’t a permanent solution.
Air conditioning has become a standard of health and safety in many work environments that reach high temperatures. In fact, air conditioners use five percent of all electricity produced in the U.S. annually. Unfortunately, temperature control is not a requirement set by OSHA, and therefore cannot be enforced by law.