Former employee continues fight to regain job
A former parking enforcement specialist in the Division of Public Safety will continue his fight to regain his job, despite the University’s conclusion that his termination was appropriate.
Constantine Mellon, 59, filed a grievance against the University soon after his termination June 14, and Human Resources (HR) determined at the end of October that its decision was the right one.
Mellon said his previous position, which he held since January 2009, required him to file parking citations on campus. He said he issued 30 to 40 citations per day, but the division fired him for “non-productivity.” He claims it was for age discrimination.
“When they investigated, they were very vague on the questions,” he said. “They didn’t ask pertinent questions where I had incident reports on. They wanted to make sure they still looked good.”
In Mellon’s Charge of Discrimination report, which was filed Sept. 27 to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), he said, “My initial supervisor (Frank Wassenberg) commended my work; however … he was replaced by my last supervisor, Manuel Bermudez. Despite the praises of my prior supervisor, Mr. Bermudez targeted me for termination. Among other things, Mr. Bermudez frequently told me that I moved too slowly.”
A current parking enforcement specialist, who wished to remain anonymous, witnessed some of Mellon’s allegations second-hand.
“I saw some of the paperwork that (Mellon) had to do that no one else had to do. He would have to specify where he was and what time … like he was at a specific lot in a certain amount of time … He had to log everything he was doing. No one in the office had to do that. Why just (Mellon)?” the source said. “If (Mellon) was fired for productivity, then what is the magic number? How many (tickets) do I have to do for one day? How is it possible that the man was fired for productivity when you don’t have any standards for productivity? How is he supposed to meet these standards when there aren’t any standards?”
The source said others in the department witnessed the tension between Bermudez and Mellon, but will not speak up.
“They’re all scared of losing their job. They don’t trust the administration,” the source said. “The only thing that I saw is (Bermudez) would get very uptight every time (Constantine) asked him a question. So, there was always this constant friction. What they did to him is an atrocity. They broke his spirit, and it’s not right.”
Lara Wade, USF spokeswoman, said in an e-mail that the EEOC is currently investigating Mellon’s grievance.
“The university does not comment during the EEOC investigative process,” she said. “At this time, we have no additional info we can provide.”
Mellon said he filed for an arbitrator, an employee from the state government who settles disputes, to investigate HR. However, they will begin their own investigation after the EEOC completes its investigation.
“It’s part of the process. Once we have their report, we can proceed with the arbitrator in Tallahassee,” he said. “USF did their investigation … and they even messed that up (by not addressing all concerns).”
Mellon said his attorneys are waiting on the EEOC’s results.
His lawyer, Richard Bradford, of Bradford and Bradford law firms, said the commission’s investigation can take between two months to a year to complete.
“There is a number of things that they do. They started with our charge of discrimination, then they give the employers a certain period of time to file a position statement … so that’s where they are right now, and it’s hard to say what the timeline is because there is so many cases out there that is pending with the EEOC,” Bradford said. “(USF) believes they had justifiable grounds to terminate him.”
Bradford said hiring an arbitrator is the next step after the EEOC investigation, but it is not an option they have to take.
“You can request a hearing. So the employee has the option of one of the two,” he said. “I’m hoping we can get some kind of deal resolved in this. I do believe that Mr. Mellon’s case has merit.”
Mellon said he thinks USF brushed off his initial grievance.
“I don’t want to sound weak or silly, but when I had to read papers or make notes for the lawyer, I get very upset because I enjoyed that place so much,” he said. “This is what (USF) does. It’s a very annoying thing. I thought Human Resources was for the employees, but they’re not. They’re for the supervisors.”
Neither Wassenberg nor Bermudez could be reached for comment.