Employees Complain about Sexual Harassment – Margaret Spence Quoted in the Orlando Sentinel

Human-resources experts said it’s not unusual for employees to endure inappropriate behavior — especially by a senior-level boss — because they fear for their jobs.

“You put the employees in a position that they don’t want to come into work every day. That they don’t want to deal with that kind of stress. But they come into work because they need a paycheck,” said Margaret Spence, president and CEO of C. Douglas and Associates in West Palm Beach and member of a special panel for the Society for Human Resource Management in Alexandria, Va.

Nearly 800 pages of sworn statements from Casselberry police officers and employees describe the city’s former police chief as a hot-tempered bully who lashed out at officers and sexually harassed female workers for years.

The accusations against ex-police Chief William McNeil were made to Seminole County sheriff’s investigators, who were called in by Casselberry officials in November after the harassment allegations against McNeil surfaced.

Page after page of sworn statements, obtained by the Orlando Sentinel after a public-records request, describe a police chief who would persistently ask female employees out on dates, make inappropriate comments about their appearance, send them romantic poems and, in one instance, text lewd photos of himself to a female officer.

William McNeil
Casselberry Police Chief Bill McNeil resigned abruptly as the city investigated misconduct allegations against him. (Courtesy)
The officers and employees also told investigators that McNeil would pitch vulgar temper tantrums during meetings, demean people in front of their peers, throw his cellphone and other items against the wall, make negative comments about their age and blare music in his office at a volume so loud that employees found it difficult to concentrate on their work.

In all, 65 people, including McNeil, were interviewed by sheriff’s investigators.

One officer, Cpl. Jennifer Chapman, said she was so tired of McNeil’s hitting on her that she “made up” a story about having boyfriend to ward off his advances. Other employees said Chapman created a virtual boyfriend on a dating website to steer away McNeil, who frequented the site.

The most combustible allegations, however, are the photos and videos that McNeil sent to Officer Katrine Zorn, one of six plaintiffs in a harassment lawsuit against McNeil and the city. McNeil, investigators were told, sent as many as 100 photos and 50 videos of himself to Zorn. Some showed his penis. Others showed him masturbating.

When investigators repeatedly asked McNeil whether he regarded his actions as inappropriate or unprofessional, he responded that it depended on a “person’s opinion” or “interpretation.”

McNeil, who resigned Oct. 30, admitted sending the lewd photos to Zorn. But he said it was Zorn who began sending him nude photographs and videos of herself. Zorn, however, responded that she sent only one photo to McNeil — of her big toe — as she was getting into a hot tub with her husband.

Read Complete Story at Orlando Sentinel.com

Article by Martin E. Comas – Orlando Sentinel

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Margaret Spence

Margaret Spence - CEO of C. Douglas & Associates, Inc., Keynote Speaker on Diversity, Women in Leadership, Mentorship and Workers' Compensation. Business strategist & consultant to Fortune 500 Corporations. Founder of "The Employee to CEO Project"

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