Riviera Beach Official Facing Trial Suing City for Sex Discrimination

A Riviera Beach Building Official nearing a criminal trial for allegedly misrepresenting her qualifications has sued the city for sex discrimination, claiming she earned less than the less-experienced men who preceded her.

The 16-page complaint, filed Sept. 20 in Palm Beach Circuit Court, alleges she was discriminated against and subject to a hostile work environment.

The woman’s suit states that, while she started in January 2017 at a total pay package of $75,900, her predecessors earned more than $90,000 in base pay alone. She never received the 10 percent raise she was promised she would get if she received a provisional, limited or standard building official license, it said. She got her provisional license April 22, 2017, the suit said.

The city also reneged on a promise to appoint a deputy building official to help her, the suit said.

Prior to her hiring, the city contracted with CAP Government, a private company, to handle building official duties. One of the woman’s first assignments was to review CAP billings, to curtail unnecessary spending, the suit said.

She found the value of a number of building projects had been underestimated, short-changing the city on building permit fees they paid. In March 2017, one project, a Palm Beach Cold Storage warehouse being built near the port was ordered to halt construction.

That move sparked a lawsuit by the company, saying the city’s administrative paralysis delayed the opening by 11 months and cost the owner tens of thousands of dollars.

The woman’s suit said that, instead of backing the stop-work decision, which was made by CAP and supported by her, her higher-ups retaliated against her.

She was reprimanded for using a city vehicle as a take-home car even though she was considered emergency personnel. In addition, the city tried to keep her from doing outside work, even though she had previously been exempted from that policy.

She filed an internal complaint with the city, then contacted the Palm Beach County Office of Equal Opportunity in July 2017, seven months after taking the job.

While that was pending, in April 2018 the State Attorney’s Office filed a charge against her, alleging she “fraudulently misrepresented herself as a building official and that her actions caused ‘developmental companies to change schedules, incur losses and remit fees.”

The charge is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail.

A spokesman for the State Attorney said Tuesday the case is headed for trial.

Sex discrimination is an increasing area of legal concern. This type of discrimination in the workplace can be one of the easiest things to spot as well as the hardest as every instance is situational.  

Our South Florida Discrimination Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have outlined below the most common examples of sex discrimination at work:

  • Unequal pay — Men being paid more for doing the same job as a woman despite having the same position and status at work.
  • Different job responsibilities — Men and women given different responsibilities, such as women having administrative duties doled out while a man is asked to lift heavy items.
  • Interview questions — The biggest issue here is when women are asked completely different questions than men, such as if they have children or if they plan to have children.
  • Advancement opportunities — Men and women should have equal opportunities for advancement without their sex playing a role in the process.

If you have been discriminated against because of your sex, let our South Florida Discrimination Attorneys at Whittel & Melton explain your legal options. Contact us online or call our Palm Beach County office at 561-367-8777 to arrange a free case evaluation.

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