Huger quits longtime Daytona position; lawsuit ongoing
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Thomas Huger once enjoyed his job at the City of Daytona Beach, calling it a pleasure to work for the municipality from May 2006 to October 2010.
Huger said that after that time he endured “constant alienation, isolation, humiliation, discrimination, harassment and retaliation.’’
He resigned last month as the city’s facilities construction and maintenance manager.
Huger, 65, is suing the city for age and race discrimination and wants a jury trial.
“I hope someday our community does not have to deal with this behavior,” Huger told the Daytona Times.
Filed last year
His attorney, Kelly Chanfrau, confirmed via email that the lawsuit is ongoing.
“The case is in discovery. The parties have some depositions to take and then the case will be ready for trial,” Chanfrau stated.
The lawsuit was filed early in 2017 and followed a 2015 claim with the Florida Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for racial discrimination against the city after Huger was passed over for a promotion for deputy public works director. The job went to David Waller a 39-year old White male.
In the EEOC suit, Huger noted, “I am Black, more educated, (MBA Management, more experienced (40 years of work experience), local resident, nine-year employee compared to a 39-year-old white man with a Bachelor of Science degree in Forest Resource Conservation and personal associate of Steven Richart, the person making the final decision on the hiring.’’
Richart was the city’s public works director at the time.
In his resignation letter to Daytona Human Resources Manager James Sexton obtained by the Daytona Times, Huger says his workplace had become a hostile environment.
“I am unable to continue working where I have been embarrassed, belittled, alienated, discriminated against, isolated, humiliated and disrespected personally and professionally,” Huger wrote.
In the letter, Huger further states, “It was a pleasure to serve the city of Daytona Beach from May 2006 until about October 2010. Since that time I have endured constant alienation, isolation, humiliation, discrimination, harassment and retaliation.’’
‘Pattern of discrimination’
Chanfrau believes the work environment forced his client out.
“Our position is that he was constructively discharged, which means he was forced out by resignation,” stated Chanfrau.
According to the lawsuit, the city has “actual and constructive knowledge of discrimination within its ranks and workforce that has been permitted to ensue’’ and “has engaged in a pattern of discrimination with its hiring practices.’’
The lawsuit further states that the city has retaliated against Huger “by isolating him, giving him a poor evaluation, subjecting him to ridicule publicly, humiliating him, harassing him, undermining his supervisory authority rightfully entitled to him by his job title and position and attempting to create a work overload for performance evaluation.’’
Former bosses criticized
In his resignation letter, Huger acknowledged, “I regret that I must hand in this resignation and I will look back fondly on the good times I had at this job before being transferred to the public works department under Ron McLemore.’’
McLemore is Daytona’s former city manager.
Huger, whose father, James Huger, was the city’s first Black commissioner, noted in his letter, “I am grateful for the valuable experiences I have gained while working for the city of Daytona Beach, more than 40 capital projects successfully completed, most under budget with validation of approximately $35 million.
“I am hopeful and confident that these experiences will benefit me in all of my future endeavors.”
Huger also stated, “My former supervisor, Mr. Frank Van Pelt continued to harass and retaliate against me and created a hostile workplace. The damage has already been done and damaged my health and well-being.”
A spokesperson for the City of Daytona Beach would not comment for this story, citing the ongoing litigation.
Success before city
Prior to his career with the city, Huger was a successful businessman and administrator.
He has been licensed by the state of Florida as a certified building contractor (CBC) and certified real estate sales, The International Code Council has named Huger a certified building Inspector and certified residential combination inspector.
Professional posts include 10 years, from 1988-1999 with Bethune-Cookman. Huger was employed in the following positions: associate vice president for fiscal affairs, assistant vice president for procurement, and director of construction/renovation.
As an entrepreneur, Huger managed his namesake business Thomas Huger, CBC, from 2000-2006.
Huger has a bachelor of science degree in finance from Bethune-Cookman College (now University) and a master’s of business administration in management from Webster University. He also served in the United States Marine Corps.