Sunday, February 18, 2018
News Roundup

Hernando utilities engineer who filed discrimination case resigns

BROOKSVILLE — Citing a continuing hostile work environment, even months after problems first surfaced, the utilities engineer who has filed a discrimination case against Hernando County has submitted her resignation.

Diana Koontz gave her two-week notice on Friday, noting in her letter to director of environmental services Susan Goebel-Canning that there has been no effort to solve the problems she and others have identified in the Utilities Department.

"Over the last eight months, I have made management within the county aware of the problems and asked for assistance in correcting them,'' Koontz wrote. "At no point has the county investigated the concerns or attempted to resolve them.''

Instead, she states, she has been subjected to retaliation and harassment for reporting the problems, though she has continued to do her job. Koontz also notes that she has even taken on more responsibilities with a smaller staff and that she will miss her project management duties.

Last August, Koontz, 44, filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming that Goebel-Canning was retaliating against her for complaining about another employee, administrative assistant Denise Kane-Agosto.

According to the complaint by Koontz, Kane-Agosto failed to complete tasks Koontz would assign her "because of my gender.''

After she complained, Koontz wrote that she had been retaliated against and had received false disciplinary write-ups.

"Susan Goebel-Canning advised me that I should not even bother to apply for an upcoming open position (engineering manager) because I am not management material,'' she wrote.

Two weeks earlier, the manager who supervised Koontz, Dale Ravencraft, was forced to resign after making the same argument on behalf of Koontz.

Goebel-Canning and Ravencraft had locked horns over a discipline of Koontz and for failing to address the rift between Koontz and Kane-Agosto.

Koontz was the engineer responsible for ordering grass seed for the drainage structures at the Peck Sink stormwater project when sod was called for in the original plan. Heavy rains during last year's storms washed out much of the work done at Peck Sink, south of Brooksville, and the choice by Koontz could have exacerbated that, officials said.

The EEOC complaint by Koontz continues. Because of the ongoing litigation, both Cheryl Marsden, director of administrative services, and Goebel-Canning said they could not comment about the employee's departure and parting allegations.

Koontz, who started work with the county in January 2011, earns an annual salary of $64,480 — with benefits, $80,792.

Her payout for accumulated time off on departure will be $432.02. Her last day is March 15.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

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