City of Orlando employees have raised serious concerns, including allegations of harassment and racism in Mayor Buddy Dyer’s office of the City Clerk. Several city employees have reached out to West Orlando News to detail complaints against City Clerk Stephanie Herdocia, Deputy City Clerk Laurie Nossair, and Public Records Manager Danielle Abdul-Nabi that they say Mayor Dyer has ignored and allowed to continue in City Hall.
After an email complaint concerning the abuse from City Clerk Herdocia was addressed to Mayor Dyer, Chief Acting Officers, and Human Relations back in October, the City of Orlando investigated the three top staffers for the abuse directed towards the employees in the City Clerk’s office. At the time, city staff reported harassment, racism, bias, verbal abuse, inappropriate behavior, and said there was a “hostile atmosphere in this working environment.”
The email complaint, which West Orlando News has obtained, informed Mayor Dyer that “employees of The City Beautiful have been treated in such a poor, distasteful, abusive and ugly manner.”
City Clerk staff stated “the harassment began from the takeover of this office when the new City Clerk began.” They noted that all the situations they were complaining about, including all the verbal abuse, happened at City Hall. “We would like to point out that these repeated instances of harassment have caused us all stress and anxiety and affect our performance at work,” the complaint said. “We also ask that the open racism be investigated as well.” The complaint stated the City Clerk, Deputy Clerk and Records Manager all subjected an employee to racism.
Months later, city employees are telling West Orlando News that nothing has changed. City staff say Mayor Dyer has done nothing to stop harassment or support the employees who keep Orlando running.
When reached for comment, Mayor Dyer’s administration said the City of Orlando did investigate but cleared the City Clerk ultimately. They did not address the fact that city employees are still complaining of a hostile and toxic work culture.
“In October 2021, we received an initial complaint and promptly took action to look into the matter,” said City of Orlando Public Information Officer Samantha Holsten. “The investigation was concluded and it was determined that no harassment had taken place.”
However, the City of Orlando did admit to West Orlando News that as a result of the investigation, Human Resources offered management training, but said it was “with an emphasis on managing during times of crisis, like the pandemic.” Typically, senior management is not re-trained unless there is wrongdoing or incompetence.
The city employees are not backing down though, which could pose a big problem for Mayor Dyer. This hostile work atmosphere and toxic environment has now been documented for over a year in the City Clerk’s office.
“Despite recent complaints and a significant investigation, the City Clerk remains in office with no consequences,” a City of Orlando whistleblower wrote to West Orlando News. “The office now has a revolving door, making life considerably more difficult for present staff with 4 people leaving in a month.”
There also appears to be blatant retaliation and inappropriate behavior from City Clerk Herdocia, along with some authoritarian or Chinese Communist Party tactics. This includes allegations the City Clerk is spying and recording city employees without their consent, that she is attempting to prevent staff from socializing with one another, and that staff is not allowed to ask questions more than once without consequences. They claim current employees are kept in the dark about changes that surround them with no explanations provided, and that they are no longer allowed to deliver documents to the Mayor’s Office because the City Clerk “does not want them to have access to or be seen by the mayor, nor are they permitted to communicate with the Commissioners.” The City Clerk even tells staff which break rooms or kitchens they are allowed to enter, and locks up office supplies.
Because of the turnover and lost talent, city staff complain that management is incompetent. “The current management team have no clue what everyone in office does and have resorted to forcing employees to write full instructions on how to do daily tasks,” a city whistleblower wrote. “The managers need lengthy and detailed instructions…even though they are paid to know this role and are supposed to be training on how to do all the work encompassed.”
City employees also reported harassment has now expanded to other areas of the city under Mayor Dyer.
“We are ignored and unappreciated and this will continue to happen as it seems this is being swept under the rug,” they said.
The West Orlando News continues to investigate and look into the serious allegations being made by city staff. The City Clerk’s office has withheld records from West Orlando News on many occasions, with Deputy City Clerk Nossair typically making up excuses or flat out lies until pressured enough to release the records. A city attorney even lied and used a repealed Florida statute to withhold a public record from WON, before we exposed her and got the records. We are still waiting for all requested records on this matter.
This is a continuing story…stay tuned for more updates.