Sunday, August 19, 2018
Politics

Woman considers wrongful termination suit against Rob Turner, who sent her porn

TAMPA — The former human resources director accusing Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Rob Turner of sending her porn is now contemplating a wrongful termination lawsuit against him.

Carolyn Filippone has retained civil litigator Chris Jayson, he confirmed Wednesday.

Jayson said he and his client are still evaluating their options, which could include resolving the matter without a lawsuit. But any action they take will center on Turner's firing of Filippone after a sexual discrimination complaint she filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against him was dismissed, he said.

"In the initial complaint, she wasn't seeking money damages,'' Jayson said. "She just wanted to be treated fairly like anyone else. Now that he has terminated and left her with an inability to provide for her family, she has been hurt.

"The decision to terminate her because of her complaint to the EEOC was unconscionable and illegal."

Jayson will be working with Steven Wenzel, who had represented Filippone on her EEOC complaint against Turner. Wenzel said the pairing brings more resources to seeing a wrong righted. He noted that Turner has been represented by the large, statewide law firm Akerman Senterfitt.

"We're the David. They're the Goliath," Wenzel said. "We're just a bigger David now."

Attempts to reach Turner and his attorney were unsuccessful.

Filippone, 49, filed her discrimination complaint with the EEOC in early 2010. She said she had been subjected to repeated sexual advances by Turner electronically and in conversation.

She alleged that she previously had an "adult relationship" with Turner that ended in 2006. She claims Turner attempted to rekindle a sexual relationship and, when she refused, she was moved to a Brandon satellite office and cut off from peers.

The move occurred, she said, shortly after Turner's wife discovered some of her husband's text messages to Filippone.

As part of her complaint, Filippone included more than 40 emails she said she got from Turner, which included graphic pornographic images or links to porn sites, as proof of his come-ons.

Turner admitted sending porn to Filippone in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times earlier this month. But he said they were part of a mutual and consensual exchange. He said the emails were sent during nonwork hours using personal equipment.

He said the rest of Filippone's EEOC complaint was false, which was the reason he cited for firing her shortly after the Times interview. He has acknowledged that his wife discovered some of their correspondence, but said it was lewd texts from Filippone.

In the interview, Turner acknowledged dating Filippone but said the relationship ended in the first quarter of 2002 at the latest. Both were single at that time and Turner said the relationship began as he was undergoing a divorce and before he started dating his current wife. He remarried in July 2007.

Turner was first elected in 1996. He hired Filippone, with whom he had worked at NationsBank, as a training technician in 1997. She received a series of promotions afterward, ultimately overseeing human resources and community services.

Jayson was previously a law partner with Barry Cohen in a firm that handled many high-profile cases. His new partners were lawyers in that firm.

He said he was not yet prepared to discuss Turner's characterization of his relationship with Filippone or his contention that the emails he sent her were part of an exchange. He said those details will be secondary.

"She stands by the allegations of her complaint," Jayson said. "And the mere fact that he fired her for filing the complaint is enough for a wrongful termination case."

Bill Varian can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3387.

Comments
Romano: A fresh start for Florida to protect abused children

Romano: A fresh start for Florida to protect abused children

The worst job in Florida is available, once again.Mike Carroll has announced his pending resignation as secretary of the Department of Children and Families, giving someone else the privilege to be an underfunded, second-guessed punching bag. For no ...
Published: 08/18/18
Pinellas commission candidate faced stalking, abuse claims

Pinellas commission candidate faced stalking, abuse claims

ST. PETERSBURG — A political newcomer seeking a Pinellas County Commission seat has faced accusations of physical abuse and stalking from her former fiance, who twice sought court-ordered protection from her.Both allegations came after Democrat Amy K...
Published: 08/17/18

Two Seminole council members face challengers

SEMINOLE — Six candidates have filed to run for two open seats on the City Council.Incumbents Chris Burke, first elected in 2012, and Trish Springer, elected in 2015, face challenges from former council member Dan Hester, who served from 2005 to 2010...
Published: 08/16/18
In Republican race for Pinellas County Commission seat, Rep. Kathleen Peters outpacing field

In Republican race for Pinellas County Commission seat, Rep. Kathleen Peters outpacing field

As the Aug. 28 primary election approaches, three Republicans are battling to represent a Pinellas County Commission district that hasn’t witnessed a competitive contest for more than 15 years.State Reps. Larry Ahern of Seminole and Kathleen Peters o...
Published: 08/16/18
Romano: Con artist or Florida politician? You decide

Romano: Con artist or Florida politician? You decide

Decorum matters, and so the attorney’s language was appropriately measured.In seeking to have a constitutional amendment thrown off the ballot, a motion filed in Leon County used words such as "misleading’’ and "ambiguity’’ and "wordsmithing.’’That’s...
Published: 08/16/18
Veteran Hernando politicians take oversized contributions, run afoul of campaign finance laws

Veteran Hernando politicians take oversized contributions, run afoul of campaign finance laws

BROOKSVILLE — With primary Election Day at the doorstep, two Republican candidates vying for seats on the Hernando County Commission found themselves in uncomfortable spots over potential filings with the Florida Commission on Ethics.And a third Repu...
Published: 08/15/18
Q&A: A Watergate trickster talks dirty politics, then and now

Q&A: A Watergate trickster talks dirty politics, then and now

CLEARWATERNearly half a century ago, Martin Kelly made the mistake of his life.He was a senior at the University of Miami when he decided to take part in what would become one of the most infamous political scandals in U.S. history: Watergate. He was...
Published: 08/15/18

Pasco Political Notebook for Aug. 17

Republican Club hosts candidate forum at meetingThe West Pasco Republican Club will host an "Election Extravaganza" candidate forum at its meeting Aug. 21 at Heritage Springs Country Club, 11345 Robert Trent Jones Parkway, Trinity. A social time will...
Published: 08/13/18
Updated: 08/15/18
Early voting in Pasco: Here’s what to remember when you head to the polls

Early voting in Pasco: Here’s what to remember when you head to the polls

Early voting Pasco County begins Saturday and runs through Aug. 25, with 11 locations across the county for voters.Polls are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 20-24, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug...
Published: 08/13/18
Largo election cancelled as incumbents stay with no opposition

Largo election cancelled as incumbents stay with no opposition

LARGO — There will be no suspense in the city when elections arrive Nov. 6. In fact, there will be no election at all, because all four city commissioners whose seats were up were re-elected by default when no one came forward by the end of the candi...
Published: 08/13/18