Orlando Fire Chief Roderick Williams resigns amid harassment allegations

Female employee alleged she was threatened, sexually harassed

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

ORLANDO, Fla. - Embattled in harassment and discrimination allegations, Orlando Fire Department Chief Roderick Williams resigned Thursday, according to a city of Orlando official.

Williams, who has been with the fire department for 23 years, submitted his resignation letter Thursday to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined Williams and two deputy chiefs discriminated against a female employee, according to a report issued Feb. 13.

The employee alleges she was subjected to differential treatment, threatening and harassing conduct by the two current deputy chiefs. The woman said Williams denied her the opportunity to be considered for a promotion in favor of two less qualified employees, according to the EEOC findings.

The report said the woman also claims she was subjected to unwanted sexual harassment.

The EEOC investigation found that the OFD sexual harassment policy is outdated and that when the employee reported her allegations department officials "conducted a faulty and biased investigation" of the sexual harassment accusations against Williams.

Williams denied the allegation in his registration letter to the mayor.

"I regret that during my tenure there have been allegations that have hurt the department and the city of Orlando," Williams said in the letter. "While I categorically deny the allegations against me, I believe the focus of the Orlando Fire Department should be on serving and protecting the residents of Orlando and not on my leadership or my position."

Orlando Professional Firefighters Local 1365 president Ron Glass issued a statement about the resignation Thursday evening.

"The Orlando Professional Fire Fighters Local 1365 has been made aware of the decision by Fire Chief Roderick Williams to retire due to the findings of the EEOC investigations. Local 1365 sincerely appreciates Mayor Buddy Dyer’s strong leadership during this tumultuous time. We look forward to working with Mayor Dyer and his administration to find a Chief that provides members of Local 1365 with the professional and inclusive leadership they deserve," the statement read.

City officials said Orlando Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Kevin Edmonds will oversee fire department operations until a new fire chief is appointed.

 

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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