The city of Pensacola was recently hit with a gender discrimination lawsuit by a former employee.
A Pensacola city employee recently filed a lawsuit against the city over allegations that she was discriminated against while working in the city’s Sanitation Department due to her gender. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of Cindy Citarella and argues the city “violated her civil rights when she was demoted from a supervisor to an office assistant after her bosses in the Sanitation Department made disparaging comments about working with women.” To make matters worse, the suit claims John Pittman, the Director of Sanitation, and immediate boss Fred Crenshaw said “there was a lack of respect toward Citarella because she was a woman.”
Pitman was hired to oversee the Sanitation Department back in 2019. During conversations with Citarella, Pittman allegedly told her that he “left his previous job to come to Pensacola because he could not work with women.” Another supervisor, Willis Fails, also allegedly said that “he was going to get ‘that white b**** Cindy,’” according to the lawsuit.
At the time, Citarella was working as an operations supervisor in the department. However, Crenshaw regularly encouraged her “work crew to go around her for work assignments and days off, yell at her and assign her to work assignments such as driving a garbage truck that was not part of her job description and aggravated injuries to her neck and back.” Even though she raised concerns with the city’s HR department in December 2019, nothing changed.
Then, when a yard waster supervisor position opened up, Citarella expressed interest in applying. According to the suit, Pittman told her to apply like everyone else, so she did. Then, in January 2020, she was called into Pittman’s office, where she was told she “could not apply because her departure would cause too many problems.” She was instructed to “throw away her application.” As a result, she was not interviewed for the position.
To make matters worse, in February 2020, Crenshaw “instructed her that she was not allowed to speak with anyone in the office of the Sanitation Department.” During a meeting on February 24, 2020 with HR and Assistant City Attorney Heather Lindsey regarding her discrimination complaints, it was suggested that Citarella “move to a new job and start over,” the suit claims. That same day, Citarella “was informed she was being moved from her supervisor position to an office assistant position in Fleet Management.” Her supervisor role was given to a male employee, according to the suit.
As part of the lawsuit, Citarella is seeking a court order that would allow her to be reinstated to her supervisor position. She is also seeking back pay and punitive damages against the city.