Saturday, October 16, 2021

Discrimination Suit Dismissed by EEOC

The Florida Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently dismissed a case of alleged discrimination brought against the City of Marco Island and former Police Chief Al Schettino. That investigation came about due to claims made by a records clerk in the police department with the Florida EEOC.

Heather Comparini alleged that beginning around February 16, 2018, Chief Schettino discriminated against her personally due to her gender, continually harassing and intimidating her while creating a hostile work environment.

The department had initiated a personnel action which would have resulted in Comparini’s termination from the department due to what Schettino believed was the leaking of confidential documents regarding the early stages of an investigation into charges against then-City Manager Lee Niblock. Those charges, stemming from unwanted advances against a local school principal, were turned over to the Collier County Sheriff’s Office for their independent investigation.

Niblock would eventually be charged with First Degree Misdemeanor Battery. That charge would carry with it a possible one-year jail sentence and up to a $1,000 fine. Niblock negotiated a plea deal with the State Attorney’s Office after months of delays and pled no-contest to the charges.

The EEOC would issue an official dismissal of the charges brought by Comparini. The notice of the dismissal stated, “Based upon its investigation, the EEOC is unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes violations of the statutes. This does not certify that the respondent is in compliance with the statutes. No finding is made to any other issues that might be construed as having been raised by this charge.”

Just prior to the disposition of the case, Chief Schettino retired at the end of May of 2019, completing over 40 years of service in law enforcement. Heather Comparini is still employed within the department.

Deputy Police Chief Tracy Frazzano of the Montclair Township, New Jersey Police Department was recently named to head the department after an exhaustive search nationwide. She will be the first woman to head the department when she arrives later in August to assume her role.

She will not be the first female chief in Southwest Florida. She will join Bernadette DiPino of Sarasota, Pamala Davis of Punta Gorda, and Melanie Bevan of Bradenton.

Former Police Chief Al Schettino. |Photo by Steve Stefanides

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