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Florida Town Gone Wild Sued by Its Own Former Attorney

Courtesy Melissa Anderson
Courtesy Melissa Anderson

A tiny Florida town embroiled in a series of political controversies has a new one to contend with—a lawsuit by its former attorney.

Geoffrey Jacobs, the ex-mayor and current commissioner of Pembroke Park, is accused of subjecting Melissa Anderson, who is gay, to a hostile and discriminatory work environment during her two years as town attorney. The lawsuit filed against the town contends that when she tried to speak out about his behavior, which included calling her a “fucking cunt” and sending her a homophobic TikTok, Pembroke Park officials failed to take “prompt remedial action” and then fired her in December 2022.

“I decided to sue because it was the right thing to do, for both myself and the other women who have been subjected to Mr. Jacobs’ hostile and abusive behavior as a government official,” Anderson told The Daily Beast on Tuesday. “He has caused damage to me and my reputation and he continues to engage in such behavior as a town commissioner with no remorse at all.”

The $50,000 lawsuit is the latest rap on Jacobs, who is facing a misdemeanor charge for allegedly falsely calling the police on the town’s current mayor during a November meeting. As previously reported by The Daily Beast, Jacobs also has been censured by his colleagues, sued by another former town employee, and accused of cultivating a hostile work environment in an independent investigative report.

This Florida Town Commission Should Have Its Own Reality Show

“He is a headache. I think he treats people so badly, and they don’t want to deal with it,” Vice Mayor Erik Morrissette told The Daily Beast last month. “He manages by fear and I believe he is not suitable for office.”

Jacobs has denied any wrongdoing in the 911 incident and accused his colleagues of corruption. His lawyer and town officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Anderson’s lawsuit says that after she started working for Pembroke Park in September 2020, Jacobs asked his friends to file “false and unsubstantiated” harassment reports against her. The town investigated those “baseless” complaints, but allegedly failed to look into her grievances against Jacobs, the lawsuit says.

In October 2022, Jacobs also allegedly sent Anderson a “misogynistic, homophobic, and threatening” TikTok in which someone asks a club bouncer what “angers him about masculine women.” In response, the bouncer says that “masculine women think they are ‘hot shit’ until they find out he can ‘beat the crap out of them,’” the lawsuit says.

“I was so baffled. And freaked out,” Anderson previously told The Daily Beast of the video.

The lawsuit alleges that Jacobs also emailed the video to the town manager, with the caption: “this is your town attorney. She has seen it.”

He later claimed that he accidentally sent Anderson the TikTok. She reported it to the town’s Director of Human Resources and filed a police report. When he learned of Anderson’s complaints, Jacobs allegedly tried to argue that he and “other men in the Town” were victims of her supposed harassment, the lawsuit says.

“Jacobs also claimed he was not homophobic because he worked with ‘a great deal of gay flight attendants,’” the lawsuit says. “On another occasion, he claimed [Anderson] was ‘weaponizing’ her gender.”

Jacobs tried to persuade the town commission to fire Anderson multiple times, the suit claims On Dec. 14, 2022, the commission voted to transfer her out of her post and terminate her employment.

Afterward, the town hired an outside investigator to look into claims Anderson and others had made about Jacobs. In August 2023, the investigation found that Jacobs engaged in a “pattern of bullying, threatening harm, intimidation, public humiliation, and retaliation” after speaking to 13 current and former employees.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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