Doral City Clerk Barbara Herrera filed a federal charge of discrimination on Wednesday with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Councilman Pete Cabrera, who called for her termination last week.
On Nov. 29, the recently elected councilman requested a special meeting to fire Herrera, the city’s longtime city clerk.
Cabrera, who served on the Council for nine years, ultimately decided to put the subject on the Dec. 10 council meeting agenda instead.
On Wednesday, Herrera filed a complaint through an attorney, claiming Cabrera’s move is “retaliatory” for a lawsuit she filed against him for gender discrimination in the workplace in 2009.
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“In the past month, after being re-elected to the City Council after a two-year hiatus, Cabrera is now attempting to terminate Herrera in retaliation for the prior lawsuit against him and the city,” the complaint said. “It is Herrera’s belief that her employer discriminated and retaliated against her due to her gender and marital status in violation of Title VII and the Florida Civil Right Act. Mr. Cabrera specifically targets women and single mothers for his attacks at the city.”
But Cabrera said it is not retaliatory. In his request to fire the clerk, he contends that when he was previously on the Council, he saw Herrera come in to work late and overlook documents.
On Thursday, Cabrera added more material to the Dec. 10 agenda, including a resident’s complaint, and a memo dated Dec. 16, 2012 by a former assistant to the clerk, Christina Muñoz, claiming that Herrera, her supervisor, verbally intimidated her and discriminated against her for her sexual orientation.
Herrera responded at the time that Muñoz’s memo stemmed from her reprimanding Muñoz for not doing her work.
“Ms. Munoz’ letter made several accusations and allegations against me that are a complete misrepresentation of the truth and malicious in nature,” Herrera stated.
Muñoz was later terminated by then-city manager Merrit Stierheim for insubordination. Muñoz filed a discrimination complaint with the Miami-Dade County Commission on Human Rights and was reinstated when Joe Carollo came on board as city manager. Muñoz then agreed to withdraw all complaints filed, a settlement shows.
A memo to Stierheim from the then-assistant city attorney Kara S. Nickel, who investigated the complaint, showed that nothing was found.
“My investigation did not substantiate Ms. Munoz’s allegation of a hostile work environment,” Nickel said.
Muñoz requested to be moved to another department and still works at City Hall in the Building department.
“I would hope that the residents would ask: why is Councilman Cabrera is bringing up a matter that has been unsubstantiated and withdrawn?” Herrera told the Herald Thursday. “Why does he not know that Council members were aware about this two years ago?”
The request for Herrera’s termination will be discussed at 6 p.m. on Dec. 10 at Doral City Hall.
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