PLANT CITY — After Liz Gately was told to wait outside the Plant City’s Tax Collector office to renew her car registration with her 1-year-old last week, the internet fought back.
Facebook posts from Gately, 27, as well as bystanders and other mothers sent outside, went viral. Commenters called for the employee who ordered the women to wait outside or come back another day without young children to be fired.
On Thursday, Hillsborough County Tax Collector Doug Belden said he had met with Gately, and apologized. He said the two were able to reach an agreement with which they were both happy.
The employee, who has been with the DMV for more than 30 years, is writing Gately a letter of apology. She will also undergo new customer service and communication training.
"People make mistakes, but I firmly believe that everyone should be given a second chance to learn and grow from them," Belden said.
After his discussions with Gately, Belden said he’s ensuring benches are installed outside all of the county’s DMV offices. While there is no policy that prohibits children from being with parents inside the DMV, the benches can be used to quiet a fussing child if a parent feels they need to step outside.
Gately told the Tampa Bay Times last week her child was being well behaved, which is why she was taken aback by being told to wait outside.
She was even more frustrated when she realized there was nowhere to sit. She needed to renew her car registration and waited outside with her daughter in the heat for about two hours.
The Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s office has about 200 branch employees working in eight locations. Belden said they serve about a million people each year, and the department holds a customer satisfaction rating of close to 97 percent, according to data pulled from comment cards.
"I am very grateful that this matter has been resolved and that this experience can be used to adopt positive changes within our organization," Belden said.
Contact Sara DiNatale at [email protected] Follow @sara_dinatale.