The city of Fort Myers has denied a grievance hearing request filed by the former general manager of the Harborside Event Center this week.
Fort Myers City Attorney Grant Alley responded on Friday to the request made by Rose Rundle, the event center’s former top boss, on Wednesday. Alley said in a written response the city charter gives City Manager Billy Mitchell the authority to fire Rundle.
“Thank you for your correspondence, however, based on the Charter providing the City Manager with the authority to make this employment decision and based on the policy, the City is unable to accommodate your request,” Alley wrote.
Rundle filed a grievance with the city on Wednesday, through her attorney, William Powell. The letter requested Rundle be given a fair opportunity to address the claims through a hearing before the City Council. But Alley wrote council members are elected officials who cannot serve in a grievance committee. He said Rundle’s request of the council is legally inappropriate and lacks authority in any law, policy or procedure.
Powell has since written a response to the city’s denial, requesting the city reconsider going forth with a hearing before the council. He clarified the request was not for the council to serve as a committee but to handle the grievance.
“By your position in your letter, it is clear that the City Manager does not want the public to know the truth and is hiding behind the Charter provision, rather than allowing the case be heard on the merits before an impartial and objective City Council,” Powell wrote on Friday.
Powell said Rundle is seeking the reversal of her firing, back pay and compensation in lieu of severance damages or both.
Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson said Friday he could not comment on the matter.
Rundle was fired on June 5 after an investigation found support for claims she lived with a subordinate; allowed Andrew Thompson, Harborside’s assistant general manager, to bring his child to work and to use the Family and Medical Leave Act in a flexible manner; and allowed employees to telecommute.
The relationship between Rundle and Thompson soured after Rundle told Thompson he had to stop bringing his child to work. Thompson filed the complaint that led to the investigation into Rundle's actions.
On Monday, Rena Tchekmeian — the employee accused of living with Rundle — quit from her job as senior event coordinator at Harborside. Tchekmeian argued there was no indication her work was substandard, yet Rundle was accused of not holding Tchekmeian accountable when she underperformed.