Woman Sues City of Deltona for Over $100K Citing Discrimination 

Legal counsel presents to the client a signed contract with gavel and legal law. justice and lawyer concept

A former employee for the City of Deltona is suing the municipality over discrimination that she alleges led to her being terminated from her job.

Between January and November of 2023, Kimberly Castro was a full-time project manager for the City of Deltona. She filed her lawsuit on May 6 in the 7th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida in Volusia County.

She’s seeking $100,000 at least for lost wages and benefits, and also reimbursement of the court costs she incurs in the process of the suit.

The complaint says that Jim Chisholm, the former city manager, hired Castro, tasking her with seeking grant funding for necessary infrastructure upgrades the city needed for emergency preparedness after hurricanes Ian and Nicole. 

Within her first six months at the job, she said that she was able to secure $15 million in grant funding from the federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. She also landed $3.5 million from the state disaster relief fund.

Those monies, her suit claims, were set to be used in a number of projects in the city, including elevating the roadway at Elkcam Boulevard for flooding prevention, as well as improvements to the Eastern and Fisher wastewater treatment facilities.

In her lawsuit, Castro claims she was discriminated against once Chisholm resigned from his position in August of that year. She wasn’t included as part of meetings with other municipal staff members or in internal communications. This includes communications with Glen Whitcomb, who served as the interim city manager, as well as the directors of the city’s finance and public works departments.

Castro also said that false claims were made about her to members of the City Commission. People also made documents that she prepared look like she wasn’t “following the budget process.”

In a recent interview with a local media outlet, Castro said she believed the reason that city staff would turn away from the government grants she secured was because it required more work to track and manage the process, under requirements of the grants.

A spokesperson for the city, Catherine Baker, said that officials in Deltona weren’t able to comment on the situation, since it is pending litigation.

The lawsuit accuses employees of the city of “gross mismanagement, malfeasance, misfeasance and gross waste of public funds.” It also accuses them of overlooking critical infrastructure needs of the community at large.

Castro is being represented by Gary Wilson, an attorney based in Maitland. He recently said:

“Our firm is assisting her as she says she was the subject of whistleblower retaliation, and that’s why the city did not have just cause to terminate her.”

In her recent interview with The News-Journal, Castro said she wanted to make her story public because “what they (the city) is doing to the 98,000 people that live there is a crime.”

The city’s Mayor Santiago Avila wouldn’t comment on the situation specifically to The News-Journal, though he did say of Castro:

“I can tell you she was very competent and effective at what she did.”