Illinois Tollway Building Has Bed Bugs, Employee Claims

Employees at an Illinois Tollway customer service center say the building has a bed bug problem--even though an exterminator says otherwise.

Smithereen says it’s never found a resident population of bedbugs in the building and a Feb. 11 inspection showed no evidence of them.

The tollway is customer service center is in the lower level of the student center at 750 South Halsted.

"I was told this issue has been going on for years and they don't seem to do anything to resolve it and many employees admit they have been bitten too," employee Gina Garcia said.

She claims that management and human resources refused to help her.

"One coworker found a bedbug on the table," she said.

Garcia says she and her coworkers at the Illinois Tollway call center have repeatedly been bitten by bed bugs at work.

"Almost every week somebody’s complaining that they’re scared," she said. "And in the coat room they’ve seen some on their coat."

NBC 5 reached out to the Chicago Lighthouse, and on Friday night, Dr. Janet Szlyk, the President and CEO of the group, provided the network with the following statement: 

It is heartbreaking that an agency that works so hard to take care of people, including offering in-home assistance when needed, and provides meaningful employment to people from disadvantaged communities, is unfairly and inaccurately portrayed as being uncaring and non-responsive to our workers’ concerns about insects at the Illinois Tollway Customer Service Center.

We take every possible step to provide a safe, comfortable workplace for our valued workers at the call center, including using two separate pest control companies to conduct 6 inspections monthly, and even paying for a company to visit workers’ homes to eliminate insect issues there to prevent those workers from inadvertently bringing insects into their workplace.

We will continue to pursue our critical core mission of providing social services and job opportunities to thousands of Illinois residents annually.

Garcia says that while working at the center, in the lower level of UIC Chicago, she might have two hundred employees beside her on any given day.

They said, in their twice monthly inspections, with monitors and canines, they believe that the occasional bedbugs found in the space are most likely brought in from the outside environment.

The letter goes on to say that Smithereen has never found a resident population of bedbugs in the center.

"Even if it’s our fault or not, (there are) other ways to get rid of the infestation," Garcia said. "They said it’s not infestation but still there should not be bedbugs in a work area."

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