City of Tampa settles with aide who says council member harassed her

Orlando Gudes’ former aide reached a $200,000 settlement with the city and received an apology from Mayor Jane Castor.
Tampa City Council member Orlando Gudes was accused by a former aide of creating a hostile work environment.
Tampa City Council member Orlando Gudes was accused by a former aide of creating a hostile work environment. [ LAUREN PEACE | Times ]
Published May 18, 2022|Updated May 18, 2022

TAMPA — The city has reached a $200,000 settlement with a former aide to council member Orlando Gudes to resolve allegations that she suffered a hostile work environment.

Tuesday’s legal settlement comes after the aide and her teenage daughter filed a lawsuit seeking a jury trial and unspecified damages from Gudes.

Related: Former aide sues Tampa council member Orlando Gudes

Their attorney is Ethan Loeb of Tampa. He sent the city a letter in March seeking to strike an accord.

Loeb has also represented a local consultant in a public records lawsuit that forced the resignation of council member John Dingfelder. He has also filed a legal action and public record requests that some news media outlets have reported seek to establish that council member Bill Carlson is connected to a Facebook account that has been critical of city officials and others. The legal action does not name Carlson, who has said he isn’t the creator of the account and doesn’t know who is.

In a letter to the aide, Mayor Jane Castor apologized for Gudes’ “outrageous acts and misdeeds.”

“Nobody should have experienced the emotional turmoil and pain that you suffered,” Castor wrote. “Your courage to stand up for what is morally and legally correct should be applauded.”

Gudes has denied most of the allegations made by the aide, but a $98,000 city-paid investigation by the Trenam Law firm found 18 of them to be credible.

Castor has called for Gudes to leave his seat. The mayor has no power to remove him and Gudes has said he won’t resign. Gudes, a retired police officer, represents District 5, which covers East Tampa, parts of West Tampa, downtown, the Channel District and Ybor City. He was elected in 2019.

The former aide continues to work for the city in another capacity.