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Cape Coral's response to demand letter from the former city manager

City of Cape Coral
Posted at 6:02 AM, Mar 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-10 20:03:28-05

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — The City of Cape Coral responded on Friday to a demand letter written by attorney Benjamin Yormak on behalf of fired City Manager, Rob Hernandez.

In an email obtained by Fox 4 from attorney Yormak Friday morning, the city responded with the following:

Please allow this correspondence to serve as the City of Cape Coral's response to your client, Roberto Hernandez's, February 14, 2023, correspondence. The City denies that it took any improper action against your client and denies that it engaged in any wrongdoing associated with your client's former employment. The City terminated Mr. Hernandez without cause and accordingly paid Mr. Hernandez severance under the terms of his employment agreement. The City will not be paying Mr. Hernandez any money beyond the severance that has already been paid.
City of Cape Coral's Outside Legal Counsel

Yormak has yet to say what is next for Hernandez after receiving the email.

But did provide Fox 4 the following statement:

This City’s response lacks any substance and essentially guarantees litigation, leaving the taxpayers to bear the financial burden. Given Mr. Hernandez’s dedication to the City of Cape Coral and its citizens, it is all the more disappointing that City Council continues to further a personal animus over sound stewardship of taxpayer funds. This legal dispute was entirely avoidable.
Benjamin H. Yormak, Esq. Yormak Employment & Disability Law

Last month Yormak told Fox 4 there was zero communication from the city of Cape Coral.

“Everybody deserves to be treated equally. period,“ said Yormak.

Yormak spoke to Fox 4 for the first time since sending Cape Coral leaders a demand letter.

In the letter, Yormak detailed what he called a pattern of discrimination from mayor John Gunter and several city council members.

Yormak claimed Hernandez would not participate in discrimination against African Americans and LGBTQ employees and citizens.

“You have got the chief executive officer of the city who takes a stand against discrimination and harassment and within 24 hours of doing it finds himself promptly fired,” said Yormak.

Hernandez's February 15, 2023 firing came one day after Yormak sent the 10-page letter to Cape Corals' lawyer on Hernandez's behalf.

Mayor John Gunter has denied the claims made by Hernandez.

“It is clearly a disgruntled employee making false accusations,” said Gunter.

Yormak points back to the timeline, highlighting instances where the mayor and some city council members did not want Hernandez to hire an African-American woman as the city's economic and business development officer or promote giving a pay raise to two lesbian employees.

“The timeline just reeks of retaliation,” said Yormak.

Retaliation claims prompted the city to hire an outside investigator.

Yormak questioned that move, saying leaders facing *potential litigation are the same ones hiring the investigator.

“What are the odds that the investigation is going to yield a finding of wrongdoing? It's probably not,” said Yormak.

Herandez demands to be paid $550,000 and receive a neutral recommendation and public apology by the city or his lawyer said he will move forward with legal action.