Palm Bay (Unlawful Termination, Violation of Right of Privacy, Gender Discrimination)

January 1, 2010

AMENDED COMPLAINT AND DEMAND FOR JURY TRIALUnlawful Termination
(Below are the allegations of the amended complaint of Tina Marie Alexander)

Plaintiff, TINAMARIE ALEXANDER, by and through her undersigned counsel, sues

Defendant, CITY OF PALM BAY, and alleges:

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

1. This is an action for damages that exceed $15,000.00, exclusive of costs, interest, and

attorney’s fees.

2. All acts and occurrences giving rise to the causes of action set forth herein, accrued or

occurred in Brevard County, Florida and therefore venue is proper in Brevard County,

Florida.

3. Defendant is an incorporated government entity residing in Brevard County.

4. Defendant resides in Brevard County, Florida, and has at all times material herein resided

in Brevard County, Florida.

5. Plaintiff has complied with all conditions precedent to its claims or the same have been
fulfilled or waived and the Plaintiff has retained the undersigned counsel to represent her interests in this matter and has agreed to the payment of reasonable attorney fees for services rendered in connection herewith.
6. This Court has jurisdiction under Chapter 760, Florida Statutes, which prohibits discrimination with regard to sex.
COUNT I
SEX DISCRIMINATION
7. Plaintiff incorporates the allegations stated in paragraphs one through six above.

8. This is an action for Sex Discrimination in violation of Florida law.
9. Defendant violated the provisions of Chapter 760, Florida Statutes, which makes it unlawful for an employer “to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges or employment, because of such individuals race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap, or marital status.”
10. Plaintiff was employed by the City of Palm Bay from September 1995, until she was

terminated on or about October 13, 2008. Plaintiff’s last employment title was Data

Entry Clerk.

11. On or about October 6, 2008, Plaintiff’s supervisor, Mike Couture informed Plaintiff that

the next day was picture day for a yearbook. Plaintiff respectfully requested not to be

included in the photograph due to the fact that she did not feel comfortable having her

picture taken by a professional photographer. The photographs were to be used for a

yearbook which would be available for purchase.

12. Plaintiff’s supervisor, Mike Couture informed her that he believed the photographs
were mandatory and would inquire as to this issue and give Plaintiff a response. Mike
Couture never got back to respond to Plaintiff’s inquiry.
13. Plaintiff did not take the photographs, and was never informed of the consequences of not

participating in the photographs. Furthermore, her supervisor never responded to

Plaintiff’s inquiry with regards to whether the photographs were mandatory or voluntary.

14. On October 7, 2008, Plaintiff was given a written Employee Warning Notice, which
stated “TinaMaria refused to obey a direct order.”
15. On October 7, 2008, Plaintiff’s direct supervisor, Mike Couture, issued a letter informing

Plaintiff that her refusal to participate in the mandatory photographs resulted in

disobeying a direct order; first, he recommended a written reprimand; next, he

recommended Plaintiff be suspended from work for three days.

16. On October 10, 2008 Plaintiff received a notice for Predetermination hearing scheduled

for October 13, 2008.

17. On October 13, 2008 a Predetermination Hearing was conducted by the Defendant for the

allegations contained in the Notice dated October 8, 2008. At this hearing, the Plaintiff informed Defendant that she was traumatized by a professional photographer as a child, that she was emotionally scarred by that photographer, and that it would be difficult for the City to understand what she had gone through with that photographer. Later, Plaintiff further informed Defendant that she had been sexually molested by a photographer when she was a child.
18. After the predetermination hearing, rather than absolve Plaintiff from discipline,

Defendant heightened the discipline to be termination of Plaintiff’s employment.

19. A gentleman, who also refused to participate in the photograph, and actually raised his voice to the Fire Chief, turned in his badge and told him that he could fire him if he wants, was not terminated and was treated significantly better than Plaintiff. The gentleman, who was similarly situated to Plaintiff, was treated better because of the “good-ole-boys club” that is predominant at the Fire Department of Defendant.
20. Plaintiff was subjected to disparate treatment as a result of her gender.
21. Prior to these improper acts by Defendant as outlined above, Plaintiff had a perfect employment record with Defendant for over 13 years.
22. Given the fact that requiring Plaintiff to take a picture to be published in a yearbook with a price-tag is a violation of Florida Statute Chapter 540.08 and the fact that Defendant was violating Plaintiff’s right to privacy, Defendant did not have a legitimate reason to terminate Plaintiff. Moreover, the explanation of Plaintiff to Defendant that she had been sexually molested as a child by a photographer is further evidence of animus towards women, specially to those who have been sexually molested and sexually abused by men.
23. As a result of Defendant’s unlawful conduct, preferential treatment towards men, and its illegal policy of forcing a traumatized victim of a sexual crime to relive the stressors of the crime, is a violation of Florida Statute Chapter 760. Moreover, Defendant also violated Plaintiff’s right to privacy and Florida Statute Chapter 540.08. As a result of Defendant’s unlawful conduct, Plaintiff has suffered damages to her financial welfare by reason of Defendant’s discriminatory actions against Plaintiff.
24. As a result of Defendant’s conduct, Plaintiff suffered loss of self-esteem and
emotional distress.
25. The violations of Plaintiff’s rights by Defendant were intentional, malicious and willful.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for judgment against Defendant, for all damages to which
she may be entitled, including, without limitation:
A. Reinstatement to the position of Data Entry Clerk as held before the adverse

personnel action taken by Defendant.

B. Reinstatement of all fringe benefits and seniority rights taken as of the date of

Plaintiff’s termination.

C. Compensation for all lost wages, benefits and other lost remuneration from the

time of the adverse personnel action taken by Defendant.

D. Damages for lost retirement savings.

E. Damages for mental anguish, loss of dignity and other intangible injuries.

F. Punitive Damages

G. An order directing Defendant to expunge Plaintiff’s personnel file of any record or

reference in regard to her termination or purported reasons therefore.

H. Payment of all reasonable costs, including attorney fees.

I. Any and all other equitable and legal relief to which Plaintiff may be entitled.

J. Front pay

COUNT II
RIGHT TO PRIVACY

26. Plaintiff re-alleges and incorporates herein by reference each and every
allegation in paragraphs 1 through 25 above.
27. Plaintiff informed her employer that she did not want to be included in the photographs
which were to appear in the “Yearbook” for the employer.
28. Defendant has plans to distribute and sell the “Yearbook.” This was known by Plaintiff
when she exercised her right not to be included in the “Yearbook” photos.
29. Additionally, under Fla. Stat. § 540.08 one can be held liable for misappropriation for publishing the likeness of one for commercial purpose without consent of the person.
30. The Plaintiff declined to participate in the photographs for the Defendants “Yearbook”
and should receive protection under her right to privacy guaranteed under the US Constitution, Florida Statutes, and the Florida Constitution.
31. Defendant had no justification to violate Plaintiff’s right to privacy and thus the
termination of Plaintiff was wrongful.
32. In Plaintiff asserting her protected rights as mentioned above, Defendant caused damages
to Plaintiff.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff, TINAMARIE ALEXANDER, seeks the following relief:
A. Reinstatement to the position of Data Entry Clerk as held before the adverse

personnel action taken by Defendant.

B. Reinstatement of all fringe benefits and seniority rights taken as of the date of

Plaintiff’s termination.

C. Compensation for all lost wages, benefits and other lost remuneration from the

time of the adverse personnel action taken by Defendant.

D. Damages for lost retirement savings.

E. Damages for mental anguish, loss of dignity and other intangible injuries.

F. Punitive Damages

G. An order directing Defendant to expunge Plaintiff’s personnel file of any record or

reference in regard to her termination or purported reasons therefore.

H. Payment of all reasonable costs, including attorney fees.

I. Any and all other equitable and legal relief to which Plaintiff may be entitled.

DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

Plaintiff demands a jury trial on all issues herein triable by jury.

DATED this ___ day of January 2010.

ARCADIER AND ASSOCIATES, P.A.
___________________________
Mauricio Arcadier, Esquire
Florida Bar No. 131180
Attorneys for Plaintiff
2815 W. New Haven Ave., Suite 304
W. Melbourne, Florida 32904
Phone: 321-953-5998
Fax: 321-953-6075

Attorney: Maurice Arcadier
Status: Pending
Date Filed: 1/2010 (Amended Complaint)

Our Melbourne office is centrally located in Brevard County, enabling our lawyers to serve clients throughout “the Space Coast”, including Cocoa Beach, Palm Bay and Vero Beach.