MADEIRA BEACH – An employment attorney is asking that Madeira Beach officials reinstate former Parks and Recreation Director Doug Andrews, saying he was discriminated against because he is male.
Andrews was wrongfully fired on Aug. 30, wrote St. Petersburg attorney Patrice Puccci, in a letter to Mayor Maggi Black.
Some Madeira Beach officials have engaged in acts that are in violation of the federal and Florida Civil Rights Acts, according to Pucci.
“We are amenable to exploring creative solutions to my client’s disputes in a less formal resolution process than filing with an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or initiating court action,” Pucci wrote.
In her March 2 letter Pucci listed several allegations made about Andrews regarding him personally as well as his performance.
On Jan. 11, Commissioner Nancy Oakley sent an email to Andrews that clearly shows prejudice toward him because of his gender, Pucci wrote.
Pucci’s letter said that Oakley refers to Andrews as “Dougie,” and that “you and your good old boys clubs need to be gone. All your lies and deceit will come to an end.”
Pucci said that Black, former Commissioner Elaine Poe, Oakley, Finance Director Walter Pierce, and then acting City Manager Derryl O’Neal are well aware that Andrews is not only a former city employee but he is also a local business owner.
“As a result, incorrect and defamatory statements about Mr. Andrews has damaged his reputation and employability on a broad level,” Pucci said.
She referred to an article that ran in the Beach Beacon Sept. 7 in which O’Neal gave reasons for firing Andrews.
O’Neal was quoted as saying his decision came after “a lot of smaller items that led up to a larger event.”
In the article, he also said Andrews “showed no respect for authority at all” and that Andrews “focus at the rec center had been on revenues coming in. But there were a lot of questions about expenses going out.”
Pucci wrote that Andrews had never been informed of such alleged “smaller issues.”
“Mr. Andrews had never been informed of any issues with the recreation department’s revenues or expenses. In fact the budget was in very good shape at the time of Mr. Andrews termination,” she wrote.
On Jan. 9 the story of termination changed again when O’Neal informed the City Commission that Mr. Andrews was fired for “insubordination,” Pucci wrote.
“You also misrepresented to the commission that he was given a chance to apologize and that didn’t happen. Mr. Andrews has never been informed of such ‘insubordination.’ Mr. Andrews was similarly never asked to apologize for something,” Pucci wrote.
She said Andrews’ personnel file is devoid of any disciplinary action prior to his job termination. Former City Manager Shane Crawford’s two evaluations of Andrews in 2015 showed that his performance had exceeded expectations, she wrote.
She added that it appears no evaluation of Andrews was done in 2016. He became director in July 2014.
Asked to comment on Pucci’s letter, Mayor Maggie Black said that she can only say that the city has received the letter and referred it to our employment lawyer.
The city has no further comment on the letter at this time, she said.
Pucci is asking that Andrews be reinstated as Madeira Beach Parks and Recreation director at the same salary as of Aug. 30 with a 4 percent cost of living increase all full-time city employees were given on Oct. 1, 2017.
She also asked the city to pay Andrews all back wages from Aug. 30 to the date of reinstatement and restore vacation and sick leave he accrued. Similar terms would apply to his 401K plan.
The settlement offer remains open until Monday, March 12, 5 p.m., she said.
Tom Germond is editor of the Beach Beacon. He can be reached at 727-397-5563, ext. 330, or by email at tgermond@TBNweekly.com.