CareerSource office overrun by rats, including the small furry kind

Mark Puente

Zachary T. SampsonTimes staff writer



Published: March 28, 2018

Updated: March 28, 2018 at 12:12 PM

TAMPA –– Anonymous informers have helped fuel scrutiny of Tampa Bay’s two job placement agencies for months, angering the people who oversee them.

A different kind of rat is now distracting employees at one CareerSource office — the small furry kind that leaves droppings.

And this, too, has gotten state attention.

Rodents plague the CareerSource Tampa Bay office at 9215 N Florida Avenue, according to, yes, an anonymous letter writer. The building is owned by the state Department of Economic Opportunity, to which CareerSource reports job placement figures that are now under question.

This prompted CareerSource Tampa Bay interim director Juditte Dorcy to send a signed letter to the DEO asking it to do something about the infestation.

Dorcy warned her landlord that she will hire an expert to rid the building of the long-tailed beasts and deduct the cost from the rent. The rats are “unacceptable” for employees and taxpayers who visit the centers to find jobs, she said.

“We have been fortunate so far that we haven’t had one of these rodents bite a staff or customer in this building,” Dorcy wrote the DEO on March 21. “What is DEO prepared to do to remove this problem permanently and not just treat the situation when it reoccurs?

The DEO says it has tried to address the matter.

The state’s pest-control vendor has sealed openings in walls and placed traps around the building to keep out the elusive varmints, DEO chief of general services Ramone Smith told Dorcy in a letter Wednesday.

“The agency is committed to providing our tenants and their customers with a safe and healthy work environment,” he wrote. “We have taken every precaution to reduce the possibility of rodents infiltrating into the DEO’s space from the adjacent tenants’s space.”

The jobs center and its sister agency, CareerSource Pinellas, are facing federal and state investigations into whether they inflated job placements figures. The DEO is overseeing the state investigation into the local centers.

In the last two months, CareerSource employees have sent anonymous letters to reporters and elected officials alleging office romances, favoritism and hostile work conditions. Board members at each agency have complained about employees hiding behind their anonymity rather than raising concerns publicly.

The donnybrook about real rats surfaced in anonymous letters sent Saturday to the Tampa Bay Times and Hillsborough County commissioner Sandy Murman.


“These rats are leaving feces all over floors, carpets, on top of desks and microwaves. As you know this is a very dangerous situation for employees and our customers and their children,” said the letter-writer. “Several employees have taken pictures of this rat or family a rats and the feces that is left all over the building for some reason there has been no shut down or instant clean up to make this a safe working environment.”

Dorcy’s letter to the DEO left open the possibility that employees have attracted the rats by leaving unopened food around the office.

Meanwhile, a city of Tampa code enforcement officer “didn’t witness any rodents on the interior or exterior” during an inspection on March 19, Smith wrote. The officer also reported that the DEO has taken the necessary steps to stop the rodents from penetrating the 46-year-old building.

“We will continue to monitor and perform preventative actions to prevent any future issues with pests or rodents,” Smith wrote.

He later informed the local CareerSource office that the DEO plans to send its own facilities manger to inspect the property on Thursday.