Tuesday, November 20, 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
Ron DeSantis hire a Democrat? After election, a shift in tone

Ron DeSantis hire a Democrat? After election, a shift in tone

In considering hiring a Parkland Democrat for a top spot in his administration, Ron DeSantis continues to send signals that he will govern more to the center.
Updated: 9 hours ago
With $124 million in new money, bus agency enters new world of options

With $124 million in new money, bus agency enters new world of options

More buses, more frequency. New sales tax mean big changes for Hillsborough Area Regional Transit authority.
Updated: 10 hours ago
Florida recount 2018: Still confused? Read this.

Florida recount 2018: Still confused? Read this.

A handy Q and A to frequent questions about Florida's election recount, which ended Sunday.
Updated: 11 hours ago
Caldwell concedes, blames Broward’s ‘abject failures’ for loss

Caldwell concedes, blames Broward’s ‘abject failures’ for loss

“We cannot afford to have another election that produces similar delays, irregularities and questions over the validity of the election system,” he wrote.
Updated: 12 hours ago
Oldsmar election draws crowded field

Oldsmar election draws crowded field

Council member Eric Seidel's run for mayor draws three candidates for his open seat.
Updated: 12 hours ago
Woman who died after plunging off Royal Princess cruise ship identified as American as mystery deepens

Woman who died after plunging off Royal Princess cruise ship identified as American as mystery deepens

The FBI and prosecutors in Aruba are investigating the death of a 52-year-old woman who fell 14 stories from the cruise ship. One news site said a man had been seen choking her before she went over.
Published: 11/19/18
Most expensive Florida legislative race ever?

Most expensive Florida legislative race ever?

It's the Senate District 18 race in Tampa. An exact figure isn’t possible, however, because campaign finance laws don’t require political parties and interest groups to reveal how much money they put into individual races and where the money comes from.
Published: 11/19/18
Florida candidates get record amount in public financing

Florida candidates get record amount in public financing

Overall matching funds totaled $9,852,606, more than double the $4.34 million from the last midterm election in 2014 and easily topping the nearly $6.07 million in 2010.
Published: 11/19/18
Next stop for Florida passenger rail: More regulation?

Next stop for Florida passenger rail: More regulation?

Sen. Debbie Mayfield, R-Rockledge, said an Oct. 31 report from the Legislature's Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability backs concerns expressed by critics of the new Brightline service in South Florida that the state needs to regulate high-speed rail more.
Published: 11/19/18
Florida Dems hire investigator to look into altered mail ballot ‘cure’ forms

Florida Dems hire investigator to look into altered mail ballot ‘cure’ forms

The move came after reports showed that Democrats planned to send out forms with an incorrect deadline on them to voters whose mail ballots needed fixing.
Published: 11/19/18