It looks like Hillsborough Property Appraiser, Rob Turner, has battles on two fronts. He is seeking another term as the County Property Appraiser and given the stories that recently appeared in the local papers, Mr. Turner will have an uphill battle. See Storms, Turner at Bell Shoals Baptist for First Election Square Off. Second, a week ago Carolyn Filippone filed a retaliation lawsuit against Mr. Turner’s office.
There is little doubt that Mr. Turner is regretting his decision to fire Ms. Filippone. I previously noted that there was no question that Ms. Filippone would file suit against Mr. Turner. The only real question was when the suit would be filed. As previously noted, Ms. Fillippone brought an EEOC charge against Mr. Turner alleging sexual harassment. Among other things, Mr. Turner confessed to sending porn to Ms. Fillippone. The EEOC dismissed Ms. Fillippone’s charge in April 2012. For some reason Mr. Turner believed that the EEOC dismissal gave him the right to fire Ms. Fillippone without worrying about legal exposure. Mr. Turner failed to understand that the EEOC dismissal letter initiated a 90-day clock in which Ms. Filippone may file a lawsuit in state or federal court. Mr. Turner also did not understand that the EEOC dismisses approximately 99.99% of the discrimination charges that cross their desk and tell the employee to find an attorney and file a lawsuit.
If he did not fire her, there is a good chance that she would have allowed the 90 day clock to run without filing suit. Although Mr. Turner confessed to sending Ms. Filippone porn, she still had hurdles to overcome in order to prove a case for sexual harassment. Mr. Turner committed the quintessential error by terminating Ms. Filippone’s employment. Simply stated, retaliation cases are easier to prove than harassment cases. A plaintiff in a retaliation case does not have to show that she would have prevailed in the harassment case. Mr. Turner should have consulted his attorneys before making the decision to fire Ms. Filippone. I doubt the County is ready to deal with yet another costly employment case following the misconduct of one of its officials.
For specific questions on Labor and Employment Law, please call me, Rich Bradford at (813) 413-2402.
Bradford & Bradford’s practice areas include, Wills, Trusts, Probate, Estate Planning, Civil Litigation, Employment Law, and Family Law.