CITY OF LAKELAND GENERAL EMPLOYEES DISCIPLINED FOR MISCONDUCT
view report / investigations of allegations by Sue Eberle
LAKELAND, FL (August 15, 2013) – City Manager Doug Thomas announced today that the City of Lakeland has concluded an investigation of sexual misconduct allegations made by Sue Eberle that named six current non-sworn general employees. Based upon the results of the investigation, there is conclusive evidence that two of the six employees violated City of Lakeland policy and will receive recommended three-day suspensions without pay.
On May 2, 2013, Thomas directed staff to have Lakeland Police Department (LPD) Office of Professional Standards take the lead on investigations involving all LPD sworn and civilian employees, including any Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) employees that may be subject to the Firefighter Bill of Rights, but all other General Employees would be reviewed by investigators from the Human Resources Department. The Human Resources Investigators reported directly to the City Manager’s Office. None of the employees named in the investigation supervised Eberle and none of them worked directly with her in the same Department at the time of the allegations.
Bryan Fluke, employed since January 1988 and currently a Maintenance Coordinator for Lakeland Electric, admitted to having a consensual relationship with Eberle while employed by the City. This is substantiated by Eberle’s testimony which would indicate that the relationship commenced in the mid-1990. Based on Fluke’s testimony, no inappropriate behavior took place at work or on City property. However, Fluke did violate City email policy and he was untruthful in the investigation which is a policy violation for which he will receive a three-day suspension without pay. Fluke’s only other disciplinary action involved a 1993 oral warning regarding a verbal dispute he had with another employee.
Jose Diez, employed since February 2008 and currently an Information Technology Support Analyst III, admitted to more recent inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature with former LPD Crime Analyst Tiffany Dwyer outside a break room at the Lakeland Police Department. Dwyer previously resigned on May 14, 2013 while under investigation. Both Diez and Dwyer maintain that the conduct was consensual. However, the conduct was inappropriate and it was a violation of City policy for which he will receive a three-day suspension without pay. Diaz has no prior disciplinary actions.
Thomas stated “The City of Lakeland is clearly disappointed in the actions of Mr. Fluke and Mr. Diez that have been verified as violations of our Personnel Policies. Their actions were clearly inappropriate and fall short of our organizational values that each and every employee is expected to reflect in their performance of their job responsibilities.”
Other employees named within the investigation include:
Gary Gonyer, employed since September 1997 and currently a Traffic Control Foreman, admitted that he and Eberle had a consensual sexual relationship, but not on City time or on City property. This information was substantiated by Eberle who stated that they had met offsite which is not a violation of City Policy.
Jerry Doss, employed since October 1980 is currently a Multicraft Operator, denied the allegations and there is not sufficient evidence to substantiate Eberle’s claims.
Shawn Maguire, employed since October 1988 and currently an Industrial Coatings Specialist, denied the allegation against him by Eberle and claimed he was physically incapable of performing the alleged act due to his recovery from a serious work-related incident that left him in a full body cast and months of recovery as substantiated by workers compensation and medical records.
Dennis Herbert has been employed since July 2001 and he is currently a Safety Coordinator. Eberle alleged that Hebert wanted to be more than co-workers which he denies. The investigation failed to identify sufficient evidence to substantiate Eberle’s claim.
The investigation into the non-sworn general employees included two rounds of interviews with the named employees, a review of email records and interviews with 15 current employees identified as co-workers and/or supervisors (who were possible witnesses of alleged inappropriate behavior) of the six named employees. None of the 15 witness employees could substantiate Eberle’s specific allegations. Also, the length of time that has lapsed between the conduct alleged and the interviews of the six named non-sworn employees affected their recall of the events as well as the ability to probe further given that some of the allegations date back to 1993.