TEMPLE TERRACE, Fla. (WFLA) — An 8 On Your Side public records request uncovered a complaint about a Temple Terrace city director who had filed a complaint of her own, claiming others have not received even a slap on the wrist for inappropriate behavior.
The complaint from City Finance Director Lyn Boswell underscored an issue with the city’s Human Resources Department involving a failure to document city employee complaints.
A July letter to City Manager Charles Stephenson claimed Boswell was “very offensive, distasteful, ignorant and disrespectful.” The coworker claimed Boswell “basically called me, my daughter and my family Nazis.”
Boswell later apologized to the employee and also told 8 On Your Side she regretted making the comments.
After the July letter, Boswell filed a complaint of her own with the city about disparate treatment, claiming she was treated differently than other directors who made inappropriate comments.
Boswell told 8 On Your Side she did not want elaborate at this time.
The city investigation involving Boswell revealed a number of other complaints from city employees.
Jimmy Williams, a former public works employee, claims when he tried to complain about his boss bullying him and using racially-charged slurs to reference coworkers and residents, Stephenson told him not to go to human resources.
“A lot of [Temple Terrace city] employees are intimidated,” Williams said. “And the managers use their [teams of employees] to push out the ones who complain.”
Williams said after he was terminated, there was no paper trail of his complaints because none of his claims were documented.
“They say they don’t remember anything, and they never have paperwork saying we did anything,” Williams said. “They trash it. That’s what they normally do. They trash documents.”
Williams is one of several current and former Temple Terrace city employees who contacted 8 On Your Side, claiming their bosses use intimidation to manage them. Others said they feared retribution if they came forward.
Stephenson, who’s implicated in a Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) investigation involving a $16,000 pickleball court contract, referred our questions about Boswell and the other complaints to Mayor Andy Ross.
Ross said employee complaints that surfaced during the Boswell case were difficult to verify due to a lack of documentation.
“We don’t have documentation at this point that I wish we had and so at this point it’s a ‘he said, she said’ thing,” Ross said. “The council needs to decide what we’re going to do moving forward and what procedures we’re going to put in place to make sure we do have documentation in the future.”
When asked if he thought there was validity to the bullying claims, Ross said, “I don’t know.”
At a recent meeting, Stephenson said the disgruntled former employees were terminated for valid reasons.