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City of Tampa reaches settlement with woman who accused Councilman Gudes of harassment

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Posted at 2:32 PM, May 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-18 17:31:53-04

TAMPA, Fla — The City of Tampa and the woman who accused Councilman Orlando Gudes of sexual harassment have reached a settlement related to the matter.

According to the terms of the settlement, the City of Tampa will pay the former city employee $200,000 in compensation. Documents show that the money is being paid out, for a lost wages claim that this woman made against the city. Those claims came after she was bumped to a lower-paying city job, following her sexual harassment complaint.

The settlement also came with an apology letter from Tampa Mayor Jane Castor.

In the letter, Castor wrote, "On behalf of the City of Tampa, we sincerely apologize for the outrageous acts and misdeeds the City Councilman Orlando Gudes directed to you and your daughter while serving as a legislative aide."

Later in the letter, Mayor Castor said, "Your courage to stand up for what was morally and legally correct should be applauded by all of our employees...As I previously expressed to the public, Councilman Gudes would have already been terminated had he been a city employee."

That woman's lawyer released the following statement:

"While we wait for the day when one of the most courageous people living in Tampa can tell her story to a jury and hold Mr. Gudes accountable, we are thankful to receive some justice for the victim. Today, the City of Tampa acknowledged the hostile work environment Mr. Gudes created.

To date, this man, who still sits as an elected official, has cost the taxpayers $300,000 to investigate, validate, and resolve her discrimination claims. This settlement is a step in the right direction, but the fight is far from over. We aim to hold Mr. Gudes responsible for his actions and the damage he has caused to the victim and her child, who is a minor. The City's settlement and apology letter are proof of Mr. Gudes' wrongdoing.

The victim intends to dedicate a portion of the settlement proceeds to The Spring of Tampa Bay and the United Negro College Fund."

That former aide has also filed a private civil lawsuit against Councilman Gudes himself, for alleged abusive and sexually insensitive behavior against her and her minor daughter.

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The lawsuit started after documents revealed that Trenam Law had conducted a sexual harassment investigation of Gudes and found the woman's claims to be substantiated and "concluded that 18 of the 19 allegations appeared more likely than not to have occurred."
Trenam Law billed the city of Tampa $98,897.50, which combined with the settlement puts the bill for taxpayers at nearly $300,000.

Councilman Gudes' lawyer has released the following statement:

"Councilmember Gudes has resided in District 5 beyond the required period of time, as set forth in the City Charter. He is a duly elected member of the City Council and will continue to represent and advocate for his constituents and all of the people of Tampa.

Additionally, Councilmember Gudes was just informed, through the media, that the City has purportedly reached a settlement agreement with his former legislative aide. It is important to remember that there has been no sworn testimony from anyone. Further, this purported agreement is designed to protect the Mayor, the City Attorney, and their Human Resources department and was entered into prior to any lawsuit being filed. Just as the administration did not notify Councilmember Gudes of any alleged complaint for over a year, they also concealed these settlement negotiations from Councilmember Gudes or the City Council.

Finally, Councilmember Gudes also learned this week, again through the media, that a lawsuit has been filed against him. This lawsuit was filed on Monday after the administration entered into this purported agreement with the former aide and her lawyer. Councilmember Gudes intends to vigorously defend all claims and will respond to the allegations at the appropriate time and in the proper forum.”