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Sex remarks lead to firings of Hernando County employees

BROOKSVILLE — Two county employees, including one high-level official in the Department of Public Works, were dismissed last week after separate incidents in which they were accused of making sexually suggestive comments to co-workers.

According to documents, Michael Silvey, 58, called two women he knew from the time he worked with them at the Southwest Florida Water Management District. In his conversations with them, he asked for sex. He was fired Thursday.

In an unrelated incident, utilities worker Carl Kennedy was terminated for asking a female co-worker to turn around. He then reportedly said, "If I had a swing like that on my back porch, I would take it apart screw by screw.'' He was dismissed Friday.

In the case of Silvey, he called Josephine DiViccaro, secretary for the county's Department of Human Resources between 3 and 4 p.m. Aug. 26. According to a report filed by DiViccaro. Silvey identified himself and asked her whether she had spoken with "Carol," the other former co-worker who still works for Swiftmud. DiViccaro said she had spoken with Carol, who was not further identified in documents.

"So then you know why I'm calling you,'' Silvey asked.

"No, why are you calling me?'' DiViccaro replied.

"I'm calling you for the same reason that I called Carol yesterday. For sex,'' Silvey said.

DiViccaro told Silvey that he needed help and that the other former co-worker "was very upset about the obscene phone call.''

Silvey, who has been the county's property management coordinator since April 2006, denied needing help "and continued by saying he just needed sex,'' according to DiViccaro.

Eventually Silvey did acknowledge that he was sick, but when DiViccaro put him on hold to get another human resources employee on the phone with him, he hung up. DiViccaro also reported the incident to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

In the termination letter, interim human resource director Jerry Haines cites violation of the county's harassment policy and inappropriate conduct for the firing.

Silvey, who earned $53,622.40 annually, could not be reached for comment Monday.

Although the call to DiViccaro came during her working hours, it was not placed by Silvey from his county phone, reported Larry Jennings, deputy county administrator.

The incident came to light because it was one of the areas County Administrator David Hamilton cited for lack of oversight Friday when he suspended public works director Charles Mixson for 10 days.

Hamilton wrote in his discipline of Mixson that he had "failed to document incidents of employee discipline'' and used Silvey's case as an example. "This employee had been subject of prior, undocumented discipline,'' Hamilton wrote.

Kennedy was also terminated for violation of the county's harassment policy and for inappropriate conduct. He had worked with the county since December 1994 and earned an annual salary of $29,889.

According to a disciplinary action form, Kennedy made his harassing comment to Cindy Suter, a geographic information system technician, when he passed her in the hallway. A witness contacted a supervisor, and Kennedy was called into the office, where he "freely admitted'' making the remark.

"In view of Hernando County's 'No Tolerance Policy' '' regarding such behavior, the offending employee, Carl Kennedy, is to be terminated,'' the form states.

Kennedy could not be reached for comment.

Both employees violated a policy for which they had recently received training. After racial harassment allegations in the Utilities Department surfaced several months ago, county administration ordered all employees to go through classes to learn how to avoid harassing behavior and speech.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

Sex remarks lead to firings of Hernando County employees 09/02/08 [Last modified: Thursday, September 4, 2008 9:32pm]
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