Alleges he was dismissed for raising concerns about dangerous conditions
Glen Brooks, a former manager at Apopka’s wastewater treatment facility, has filed a federal whistleblower lawsuit against the City of Apopka. Brooks alleges he was dismissed for raising concerns about potentially dangerous conditions at the plant, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer, City Administrator Glenn Irby, Public Services Director Jay Davoll and Assistant Public Services Director Kevin Burgess; “knowingly conspired to cover up and violate the law as to the illegal conduct and unsafe conditions and violations of State permits of the Defendant’s water treatment plant and as to the grounds for the termination of the Plaintiff”.
Brooks worked for the City of Apopka from 2002 until 2016. He began as a maintenance worker, and was promoted into management before his termination. He received above average performance reviews during his tenure, according to the lawsuit.
In June of 2016, Brooks stated that he repeatedly warned of illegal contamination and permit violations at the wastewater treatment plant, “that posed physical and psychological damage to employees working at the plant and posed a threat to the health and safety of the public.”
The plant, which is over 40 years old, was sent a letter from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection detailing 14 violations FDEP discovered during a two-day inspection that ended on December 1st of 2016. The violations were judged by the FDEP to be “minor but significant” but did not find them to be a threat to the plant employee’s health or to public health or safety.
According to Brooks (as stated in the lawsuit), he received no support from his supervisors and filed a whistleblower report with the City of Apopka, the FDEP and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The complaint also alleges that Brooks was wrongfully terminated by the City in September 2016 for falsely accusing him of lying. The lawsuit says that Brooks was never told what he was allegedly untruthful about.
The lawsuit seeks back pay for Brooks, unspecified damages, and attorney fees. It also seeks damages for defamation for the city’s claims that Brooks had lied.
According to Apopka Public Information Officer Robert Sargent, the City does not comment on active or pending litigation.
Frank Kruppenbacher, an attorney with Morgan & Morgan, is representing Brooks. Kruppenbacher was the Apopka City Attorney for 30 years but resigned shortly after Kilsheimer became mayor. He had no comment on the lawsuit.