THE CITY OF DEBARY’S RESPONSE TO STACY TEBO’S SUPPLEMENTAL SUBMISSIONS IN SUPPORT OF HER CHARGE OF DISCRIMINATION
The City of Debary, by its undersigned attorney, hereby responds to the Claimant’s Supplemental Affidavit and Exhibits filed with regard to the above referenced Charge. As will be discussed below, the Supplemental Affidavit and exhibits provide no support to the Claimant’s contention that she was discriminated against based upon her sex or was discriminatorily discharged. In fact, the Affidavit and evidence establish beyond a doubt that the termination of Ms. Tebo was well justified.
Ms Tebo has submitted a 20 page Affidavit with hundreds of pages of documents which purportedly support her charge of sex discrimination. Responding to this Affidavit and exhibits is extraordinarily difficult. The Affidavit, a 20 page narrative, is filled minutia, is largely irrelevant and frequently internally inconsistent. The exhibits in support thereof are likewise largely irrelevant, often bewilderingly so, and almost entirely inadmissible. In an effort to avoid burdening the Agency with a like amount of Affidavits and exhibits, counsel will attempt to address the most telling portions of the charging party’s submission.
Ms. Tebo was employed by the City of DeBary from 2005 until her termination on April 17, 2015. Dan Parrott was hired as the City Manager in 2010. Ms Tebo worked as the City Clerk reporting to Mr. Parrott until April of 2015. During her time as a direct report to the City Manager, Ms. Tebo received significant pay raises and favorable evaluations. Ms. Tebo never filed any complaints against her supervisor.
Ms. Tebo, in addition to her duties as the City Clerk also performed as its Human Resources person. In 2014, Mr. Parrott became dissatisfied with Ms. Tebo’s performance in this position and transferred the job function to Kassandra Blissett, the Assistant City Manager. (Ms. Blissett was subsequently laid off and has filed a charge of discrimination related thereto) Though Ms. Tebo was a direct report, and served at the pleasure of the City Manager, Mr. Parrott came to understand that she was going directly to City Council Members and complaining about him. Ms. Tebo was directed to stop doing same. She did not.
Eventually, as a result of multiple complaints, questionable performance and her continued insubordination, Ms. Tebo was notified of her termination by Mr. Parrott on April 17, 2015.
Ms. Tebo filed the instant charge of discrimination on April 23, 2015.
CHARGING PARTY’S SUBMISSIONS:
Ms. Tebo desperately wants the Commission to agree with her that she has been victimized by DeBary City Manager Dan Parrott with respect to her salary due to her sex. Attached as Exhibit A is a chart reflecting hourly pay rates and percentage pay increases of Ms. Tebo, John Fletcher the Director of Parks and Recreation and the City Manager during the period of Mr. Parrott’s employment as City Manager. (The fact that she had the highest percentage salary increase will, the City is certain, mean nothing to the charging party. She will assert that she deserved her raises and more, while Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Parrott did not) Ms. Tebo received the largest percentage increase of the three.
Despite all evidence to the contrary, Ms. Tebo continues to argue that she was the victim of salary discrimination. On page 3 of her Affidavit, where she complains that she “felt underpaid and overworked,” she rather feebly attempts to explain away the fact that the City Manager increased her salary some $5,000 at her request. She writes that in the “summer of 2012” she asked Mr. Parrott to have a salary survey done. On “October 31, 2012” she wrote the City Manager and asked for a salary “adjustment for myself…”. On December 3, 2012, 33 days later, Ms. Tebo writes “he finally gave a salary adjustment because I kept reminding him of my request. (In Ms. Tebo’s world asking for a raise and getting $5,000 raise 33 days later does not merit a “thank you.” Instead, she sees it as evidence of sex discrimination)
Ms. Tebo contends that City Manager Parrott manipulated the percentage salary increase rates with respect to the pay study. She asserts that Mr. Parrot changed her evaluation date in October 1 and thus, the 3% salary increase she would have received without the study was included in the 4.1% overall increase she received. However she was not treated any differently than any other direct reports to the City Manager. All of them had October 1 evaluation dates and the statistics reflecting their pay increase after the salary study use the same input as for Ms. Tebo.
TEBO’S COMPLAINTS TO COUNCIL MEMBERS:
…on her Affidavit, Ms Tebo writes that “going to an elected official to complain about the manager is taboo”. Then in the very next sentence apparently unable to recognize the inconsistency, she writes “I complained about Mr. Parrott to current Council Member Chris Carlson and former Vice Mayor Dan Hunt…”
Ms. Tebo who repeatedly asserts that Mr. Parrott is untruthful, sees no inconsistencies in her own Affidavit. One page..of her Affidavit, she writes that she told Mr. Parrott that just because he saw her talking to Council Members “doesn’t mean it had anything to do with him or work.” Yet ….she writes of complaints about him to Council Members Carlson and Hunt. …She writes of her complaints regarding Mr. Parrott to former Council Member Koval….she acknowledges speaking with City Mayor Johnson regarding terminating Mr. Parrott.
…Ms. Tebo reports chiding Mr. Parrott about being “paranoid” regarding his accusing her of going behind his back to complain to City Council Members about him. Again, apparently oblivious to the inconsistency, …Ms. Tebo claims that Mr. Parrott’s actions are to “get back at (her) for making him lose his job….”
On page 11 of her Affidavit where she is discussing Kendra Kabbas complaint regarding John Fletcher, she writes that “very emphatically (Mr. Parrott) told me not to contact Kendra in any way. I took it as a very stern order and I followed it explicitly.” The next sentence of her Affidavit reads that on February 10, 2014, Kendra came back into my office to pick up paperwork after 5 p.m…..I let her in the side door upstairs next to my office, I took some had written notes of what she said. (One must wonder which word did Ms. Tebo not understand. Was it “order”, “follow”, “explicit”, or all of them?)
ACTING CLERK ERROR:
Ms Tebo was apparently convinced that Mr. Parrott was plotting to fire her as a result of the name “Rebecca Hammock, Acting City Clerk”, instead of her name appearing on the signature line of Resolution in December of 2013. Despite the attorney who drafted the Resolution calling her and explaining his error, that attorney’s e-mail apologizing for his error, and the subsequent corrected Resolution, Ms. Tebo “ did not buy this one bit.” (Mr. Conley’s affidavit with supporting documents detailing his inadvertent, and frankly minor error, are attached hereto as Exhibit B.).
It is abundantly clear that Ms. Tebo would rather believe she is the target of a conspiracy, even a faile conspiracy, by a group of people, than accept a simple error by one individual. The fact that in the face of explanations and apologies, Ms. Tebo still does not “buy this one bit” reveals much about Ms. Tebo’s personality and the reasons why she was ultimately terminated.
PRIOR COMPLAINTS ABOUT PARROTT:
Exhibit 35 presumably submitted by Ms. Tebo in support of her claims that Mr. Parrott discriminates against women, is comprised of a number of complaints in which he is named stemming from his prior employment as a City Manager in Oklahoma and Missour. It appears that Ms. Tebo did not read the complaints she submitted. The Oklahoma federal complaint is an environmental whistle-blower complaining. The Hayes Oklahoma complaint is a USERRA complaint. The Missouri complaints, in the extent they can be understood, appear to have something to do with workers’ compensation. The outcome of these cases is not revealed in her submission, likely because no judgment was ever entered against Mr. Parrott on any of those cases. Also attached are some documents related to the audit of the City of Mexico, Missouri in 2003.
None of these documents have the slightest relevance in any issue in this lawsuit. It must be assumed, therefore, that Ms. Tebo submitted these complaints in the hope the Florida Commission will believe that Dan Parrott is a bad person who violates the civil rights of others.
By her submission in Exhibit 10, Ms. Tebo would have the Commission believe that Mr. Parrott allows men who retire to use accumulated personal leave and receive paychecks until the leave is exhausted, at which time formal retirement begins. Specifically, …..Ms. Tebo complains of Mr. Parrott allowing Jimmie Seebinder and Dave Hocker to continue on the City payroll after retirement, with full benefits, by use of accumulated leave. She neglects to mention that a female, Barbara Poulton, was allowed to use the same retirement procedures, a fact of which she was well aware. An e-mail from Ms. Tebo to Kassandra Blissett makes specific reference to the fact that the City Manager is allowing Ms. Poulton to do “what he is going to let Jimmie (Seebinder) do to”. This omission could certainly be viewed as an attempt by Ms. Tebo to mislead the FCHR.
HIRING A FEMALE FINANCE DIRECTOR:
On ….of her Affidavit, Ms. Tebo asserts, with apparent sincerity, that Mr. Parrott hiring of a female for the open Finance Director position is not evidence of gender neutrality. This is because, according to Ms. Tebo, he really did not want to hire a woman. The fact is that when the male Finance Director retired, Mr. Parrott hired a female Finance Director. Ms Tebo’s view of Mr. Parrott’s motivations are both irrelevant and wrong.
Ms. Tebo complains that the City and Mr. Parrott refused to investigate the claims of harassment against Mr. Fletcher, the Parks and Recreation Director. In her Affidavit….,she writes “I have heard complaints from all of his assistance about John. I’ve also heard complaints from males….” Ms. Tebo goes on to list criticism about Mr. Fletcher about “flaunting his position”, making subordinates “aware that they were beneath him”, and complaints about how “John was running the department”.
These complaints regarding Mr. Fletcher, even if true, are unrelated to any protected class, in that these complaints are from both men and women and relate to allegations that Mr. Fletcher was a bad manager. Title VII prohibits discrimination including harassment that discriminates based on a protected category such as sex. Because a claim of sexual harassment under Title VII is a claim of disparate treatment; in order to prevail, a plaintiff must show that similarly situated persons not of her sex were treated differently and better. Baldwin v Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama, 480F, 3d 1287, 1301-02 911TH Cir. 2007). Where a supervisor engages in the same sorts of boorish behavior toward male employees as toward female, the hostile work environment claim fails because the conduct was not because of sex. Moat v Aaron’s Inc. 2014 WI, 5860574 (N.D. Ala., November 12, 2014). Complaints that a supervisor is unfair, rude, a bad manager, or violates internal company policy does not constitute complaining of discrimination which constitutes a protected activity. Sanchez v Purina Animal and Nutrition, LLC, 2015 WI 667619*6 (D.I) Or February 13, 2015)
Though for a time Ms. Tebo was in charge of Human Resources, she apparently was unaware of the difference between allegations of poor management and of discriminatory management. Title VII prohibits discrimination not poor management. The Courts are not super-personnel departments. The employer’s business practices regardless of the wisdom of same, is irrelevant as long as they are not made with a discriminatory motivation, Alvarez v Royal AH Developers, Inc. 610 F 3d 1253, 1266 (11th Cir. 2010). Given this lack of understanding, it should be no surprise that Ms. Tebo’s supervison over Human Resources was eventually removed.
In her efforts to convince Mr. Parrott that Mr. Fletcher needed to be fired, she pressed the complaint of Kendra Kabbas, made after Ms. Kabbas resigned, alleging sexual harassment on the part of Ms. Fletcher. This complaint involves a single event, an allegation by Ms. Kabbas that Mr. Fletcher thanked her for waring that “booby shirt”. Although denied by Mr. Fletcher, Ms. Tebo clearly thought it should have merited his termination. (The suggestion that this complaining was not investigated is false. It is notable that during his investigation into Ms. Kabbas’s complaint that it became evident to Mr. Parrott that Ms. Tebo was not fit to be the City’s Human Resource Manager.) This single event was certainly not sufficiently severe or pervasive to constitute a hostile work environment test. Gilliard v Georgia Department of Corrections, 500 Fed. Appx 860.876, (11th Cir. 2012)
John Fletcher’s termination Ms. Tebo asserts, was also justified by e-mails from him from Match.com. Within this matter was investigated, it was discovered that many city employees had received e-mails from Mach.com including Ms. Tebo. (The e-mails to Ms. Tebo are attached hereto as Exhibit E)
CHANGE IN GRADE:
Ms. Tebo complains of Mr. Parrott reducing her pay grade, despite simultaneously raising her salary. Ms. Tebo does not dispute that she had reduced job responsibilities, in that she was no longer performing the Human Resource function, and that she had no supervisory or budgetary responsibilities. (Ms. Tebo does not mention that before Mr. Parrott became Manager, the City Clerk did not report directly to the City Manager. She reported to the Finance Director. It was Mr. Parrott who elevated the City Clerk’s position to that of a direct report. Exhibit F.) Instead she points to the newly created IT/Records Manage position and argues that IT Manager, Erick Frankton, does not have any subordinates or budgetary responsibilities. While it is true that he has no subordinates, he does have significant budgetary responsibilities. Further, the IT Manager position is arguably more difficult to fill and perform than the City Clerk’s job.(Ms. Tebo’s position has not been filled since her termination and is being performed by the City Manager with an Assistant City Clerk, whose salary is some $25,000.00 less per year than Ms. Tebo’s, Exhibit G.)
FAILURE TO COMPLAIN:
Ms. Tebo asserts that she complained to the City Manager on multiple occasions regarding his alleged sexist comments. Mr. Parrott denies this. Furthermore, she never put her alleged complaints in writing, neither did she raise her complaints to the City Council publically, nor did she file a charge with the EEOC/FCHR, prior to April of 2015 (That Ms. Tebo was aware of the FCHR, and the EEOC is evident by her present filing, if not by the fact that she was the City’s Human Resource person for a number of years.)
As to the filing of her charge of discrimination, on page 15 of her Affidavit, Ms. Tebo claims to have faxed her complaint to the EEOC on March 16, 2015. This is not accurate. Her charge of discrimination was signed on April 23, 2015, and stamped as received by the EEOC on April 27, 2015. Ms. Tebo was advised of her termination April 17, 2015 (Exhibits H and I)
Many of the exhibits have little or no relevance to the charge at issue and therefore merit little or no discussion.
Exhibit 5 is comprised of the City Manager’s Employment Agreement and amendments. These documents have no bearing on the issues before the FCHR.
Exhibit 5.1 is the 140 page budget of the City for the year ending September 30, 2014. This document is of no significance to the issues of sex discrimination and retaliation.
Exhibit 9.1 is the City Charter. Its relevance to this proceeding is limited. Though it is worth noting that at p.16 & 7.01 the charter provides that “there may be a City Clerk who shall be appointed by the City Manager. The City Clerk shall serve at the pleasure of the City Manager….”
Exhibit 16 is the City’s policy against sexual harassment. It is notable that neither Ms. Tebo, nor anyone also mentioned in her supplemental submission, utilized the procedures provided in this policy.
Exhibit 19 appears to be a document related to an investigation conducted by Kassandra Blissett regarding some parking issue. Presumably these documents relate to Mr. Parrott’s decision to keep Mr. Fletcher’s and lay off Kasandra Blissett.
Exhibit 25.1 and 36 contain newspaper articles, as if somehow they constitute evidence relevant to a discrimination complaint.
Exhibit 31A is made up of various documents including news articles related to Clint Johnson, DeBary’s Mayor. Presumably these documents are submitted in an effort to establish that Mr. Johnson is not a truthful person. These documents are not simply inadmissible, they are meaningless, since the evidence in this case offered by Mayor Johnson, that Ms. Tebo was soliciting the termination of Mr. Parrott, is a fact established by her own Affidavit.
Also submitted in support of Ms. Tebo’s Affidavit is a letter from an attorney representing Ms. Blissett. This letter comments on and encloses a newspaper article regarding the schedule departure date of Dan Parrott, as well as a civil complaint by an individual by the name of Collette Rowley suing Mayor Clint Johnson for assault and slander. Again, the only purpose for these documents is to blacken the reputation of the individuals involved. That none of these materials would be admissible in any trial or administrative hearing is obvious.
The Affidavit of Lorraine Koval, Exhibit 30, was apparently submitted to show that Mr. Parrott is a liar. Of course, through the rules of evidence do not apply to this setting, an Affidavit of this nature should not be considered. It is based on hearsay and the only way to respond to same would be to file an Affidavit speculate as to the motivations of the Kovals and why they are not credible. The City will not engage in such practice.
In any event, a fair reading of the Affidavit of Ms Koval boils down to her claim that she spoke to the City Manager regarding putting on a flu shot clinic. He purportedly told her that he could waive the costs. She was subsequently directed to contact the Parks and Recreation Director, John Fletcher, who advised her she needed insurance and had to pay for the use of the hall. When Ms. Koval contacted the City Manager, he told her she would have to do whatever Mr. Fletcher told her. From these “facts” Ms. Koval asserts that Mr. Parrott is a liar. That Mr. Parrott might have changed his mind, learned something else, was wrong when he initially spoke with her, are not considered as alternative explanations. Instead, she swears under oath that Mr. Parrott is a liar.
The Affidavit Barry McGuire, Exhibit 29, is another example of Ms. Tebo’s indifference to relevance much less admissibility. Mr. Maguire’s Affidavit is largely a recitation of information provided to him by Ms. Tebo. He cites to an April 1, 2015, City Council meeting where there was “a lady handing out copies of all lawsuits from OK and MO where Parrott had been sued before for a civil rights discrimination violations. “Again, like Ms. Tebo, Mr. Maguire fails to distinguish between being sued for, and being found to have committed, civil rights violations. Further as mentioned heretofore, not one of these “civil rights violations” have anything to do with any issue even remotely related to this lawsuit.
This Affidavit also goes on to call Mayor Clint Johnson a liar. Mr. McGuire states that the Mayor was “dishonest about several things while trying to win over my vote.” The reason for Ms. Tebo’s submission of Affidavits related to Mayor Johnson we assume stems from the submission of his Affidavit where he swears that Ms. Tebo spoke to him soliciting the termination of her supervisor, Dan Parrott. Though she would have the Commission believe that the Mayor is a liar, the fact that Ms. Tebo was soliciting the termination of her supervisor is established by her own Affidavit. It is evident that Mr. McGuire’s Affidavit was submitted for the sole and improper purpose of trying to cast aspersions on the reputation of Mr. Parrott and Mayor Johnson.
Ms. Blissett’s Affidavit, Exhibit 18 should be viewed in light of the fact that that she has also filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC alleging discriminatory conduct on the part of Mr. Parrott. Their charges assert virtually identical reasons and use very similar language. Ms. Tebo and Ms. Blissett were friends and it is evident that they will be supporting one another in their claims against the City.
There are, however, a couple points regarding Ms. Blissett’s affidavit that need to be made. Ms. Blissett’s claim that she was never informed that Mr. Parrott was considering either the Assistant City Manager or Director of Parks and Recreation position for layoff is untrue. From the day Ms. Blissett was hired, she was aware that the Assistant City Manager position was subject to elimination, if necessary, for budgetary reasons. Exhibit J. Furthermore, her affidavit confirms that Ms. Blissett, if not a participant in Ms. Tebo’s efforts to have the Council terminate Mr. Parrott, was certainly aware of them. Ms. Blissett, through the Assistant to the City Manager, did nothing to dissuade Ms. Tebo from her efforts to solicit City Manager Parrott’s termination, nor did she report Ms. Tebo’s efforts to get him fired to the City Manager. It can be inferred that Ms. Blissett would not have regretted Mr. Parrott being terminated and one can only speculate that it was with the hope that she would be his replacement. (A position she had held in an interim basis prior to Mr. Parrott being hire d as City Manager0
The Affidavit of Daniel Hunt, Exhibit 11 to Ms Tebo’s submission, is also interesting. This Affidavit is merely a report by formal Council Member Hunt of Ms. Tebo’s complaints to him regarding Mr. Parrott (Apparently Ms. Tebo believes that telling someone her accusations, and then having that person swear that she told him the accusations, is somehow evidence that the accusations are true.) This Affidavit is of no evidentiary value with regard to Ms. Tebo’s complaints. It is, however, probative with regard to the justification for Ms. Tebo’s termination. It reflects her continued disobedience to Mr. Parrott’s orders regarding her not going behind his back to Council Members, and her attempts to garner a majority of the Council to vote in favor of terminating Mr. Parrott.
Kendra Kabbas’ Affidavit, Exhibit 16A focuses on the “booby shirt” comment allegedly made by Mr. Fletcher, which she did not raise until after her exit interview. Presumably, the purpose of this Affidavit is to try to establish that Mr. Parrott should have fired John Fletcher and retained Ms. Tebo’s friend, Kassandra Blissett.
Exhibit 39 is the Affidavit of Barbara Sipler. Again, this is an Affidavit of no evidentiary value. Ms. Sipler accuses Mr. Parrot of being a liar because he promised, but failed to deliver, on having trees trimmed along the entrance to a Country Club. Once again, the sworn explanation is Mr. Parrott lied, left unconsidered is he forgot, changed his mind, had not gotten around to it and so on.
Ms. Sipler also represents that Mr. Parrott was advised during executive session meetings that he was no longer going to be retained as City Manager. How would Ms. Sipler know what went on at a confidential executive session meeting?
She also alleges that the City Manager had lunch in Mt. Dora, a town 26 miles away from DeBary. She asks the question “What if the City had a catastrophe in the 3 hours he was out of the City having lunch?” Though I have not consulted with City personnel, I assume the answer is that he would be contacted on his mobile phone.
This is another exhibit with no purpose other than to impune a reputation.
The City attaches hereto its position statement filed with the FCHR on July 10, 2015. In that the legal issues raised in her charge are discussed adequately in this document; the City will not restate them herein. (A copy of the City’s position statement is attached hereto as Exhibit K). However the law regarding burden shifting merits further discussion.
Under all of the claims made by Ms. Tebo, whether sex discrimination, pay discrimination, hostile work environment or retaliation, if she were to meet the prima facie case requirements of such claim, the burden would shift to the City to articulate a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for her termination. The City did so explaining that Ms. Tebo was terminated because she failed to provide requested information, inaccurately reported human resource issues, questioned City Council Members regarding confidential communications, involved herself in City Council politics and sought to have the City Manager terminated. These are all legitimate non-discriminatory reasons for her terminations. Ms. Tebo was, therefore, required to establish that these reasons, each one of these reasons, was a pretext for discrimination. (It is settled that if an employer proffers more than one legitimate non-discriminatory reason, the employee must rebut each of the reasons to maintain her claim. Jest v Archbold Medical Center, Inc. 561 Fed. Appx 887, 890 (11th Cir. 2014)
Furthermore the Affidavit reflects a person who is utterly indifferent to the facts if inconsistent with what she chooses to believe. No rational person can believe that the mistake made by Attorney Collins was a sign of her impending termination, as opposed to a simple inadvertent error. Nevertheless, despite all the proof to the contrary, Ms. Tebo does not believe it “one bit”.
Ms. Tebo clearly did not believe that the rules associated with the employment of mere mortals applied to her. She believes that despite disobeying direct orders from her supervisor, going behind his back to complain about him, and seeking his termination of employment, which she claims to have accomplished, her termination was not justified, but was instead discriminatory. This belief is not merely wrong, it boarders on delusional.
Accordingly, for the reasons set forth, and in the City’s July 14, 2015 position statement, Ms. Tebo’s charge of discrimination should be dismissed.
Dated: September 24, 2015
Michael H. Bowling, Esquire, Bell & Roper PA