Officers file discrimination suit against Ocoee PD

Stephanie Roberts and Carlos Anglero allege their supervisors displayed racist and sexist behavior.


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  • | 11:30 a.m. August 25, 2016
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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Two police officers are suing the Ocoee Police Department for discrimination.

The Hispanic officers, Stephanie Roberts and Carlos Anglero, allege their supervisors displayed racist and sexist behavior on numerous occasions toward them and other female and/or Hispanic officers.

Roberts worked for the Ocoee Police Department for eight years, and Anglero worked there for nine. Both officers claim the discrimination shown by then-Lt. Bill Wagner, then-Sgt. Steve McCosker and Sgt. Mireya Ianuzzi contributed to the creation of a hostile work environment.

As a result of her discomfort, Roberts filed an official complaint to the Ocoee Police Department’s Human Resources division and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. That complaint sparked an internal investigation that included “nearly 10 hours” of interrogation that Roberts said meant to intimidate her rather than seek information. Recordings of those interrogations are in the possession of the Ocoee Police Department.

While Anglero is still employed by the Police Department, McCosker said, Roberts is not. Roberts and her attorney, Jerry Girley, suspect the coincidental timing of her termination was deliberate, as it occurred the day after she filed the lawsuit. 
However, McCosker said this is not the case. He said his department did not learn about the lawsuit until they received a call from media.

“I actually received the call, and I thought they were asking about the EEOC complaint that was under investigation, so they had to clarify that there was a lawsuit,” McCosker said. “This was on Monday (Aug. 15).”
Because of confidentiality policies, McCosker declined to speak regarding details written in the court records.

“I think there’s a lot of things in (the complaint) that are just not true,” McCosker said. “I’m not going to be able to talk about specifics, because, again, this is an ongoing investigation. However, there’s a lot of creative licensing in her wording and everything else that she did.”

Roberts said the details she included in her complaints were not exaggerated and said other people were present during some of the statements.

According to court records, Roberts maintains she was “wrongfully disciplined for allegedly using excessive force, allegedly taking an excessive lunch break, conducting an unauthorized investigation and being dishonest.” She said the subtle discrimination had been going on for a long while but grew more intense during her last three to four years of employment.

She applied for a promotion after passing an interview with the highest score, but she did not receive the promotion. She also applied for an open position during a day shift but was instead given a night shift, which is typically the less-desirable shift. 

“If you ever want to move up or be moved into a specialty unit, you can’t cause waves or you’ll be blacklisted and won’t go to training,” Roberts said. “So a lot of people experience the discrimination but are afraid to speak up.”

Roberts also mentioned that after she began to complain, she was placed under internal investigations repeatedly. A situation she suspects was the consequence of filing discrimination complaints against her supervisors.

 “After I began to complain … I was placed in three investigations back to back, with all of the investigations leading to possibilities of termination,” Roberts said. “And I was employed by the department for eight and a half years; before those three investigations, I was never under investigation.”

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Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected]

 

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