Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: George Castrataro 954 573-2003 [email protected]


Fort Lauderdale, Florida- November 30, 2010 — Michael ("Mikey") Verdugo, the former openly-gay Hollywood Police officer who charged that he was unfairly terminated by the City of Hollywood in January 2009, lost an appeal today in a Broward County Circuit Court hearing relevant to his discrimination case, it was announced today by his pro bono attorney, George Castrataro. The Court concluded that the threshold to show bias in arbitration was not met.

Castrataro and Kent's petition claimed bias, that "The City was allowed to terminate Verdugo not for failing to list any specific employment prior to the commencement of his duties, but failing to list alleged employment that was homosexual in nature, and by nature of its expressive personal and intimate human contact, should have been outside the scope of review." Castrataro stated, "Overcoming arbitration is rare at best, but this fight was about right a wrong not winning or losing."  Absent substantive laws on the state and national level people like Mikey will continue to face institutional discrimination.

"This long-fought battle against bias will not end here," Castrataro said, "we must continue to advocate and fight for GLBT employment rights at the state and national level. This travesty of justice underscores the need for passage of the stalled ENDA bill that would provide critically needed job protections. Had ENDA been in place last year, Mikey's job would have been protected," he added. Castrataro has long been active in working with the Broward County Commission on local human rights issues.

The Verdugo loss follows a victory when, on August 12, 2010 at a hearing in Tampa, Castrataro persuaded the State of Florida Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission to uphold a negotiated Settlement Agreement in the discrimination case. That unanimous ruling allowed Mr. Verdugo to retain his State certification as a law enforcement officer.

The pending Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is a comprehensive remedy to address the lack of state and local protection afforded to American GLBT workers. Under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, all Americans have the right to equal protection. This protection includes employment, guaranteeing that the government not discriminate in its employment practices, but the lack of state and local protections exacerbates the widespread discrimination that GLBT workers experience by all types of employers. These affected employees have no adequate remedy in federal law. ENDA would provide critically needed job protections for the entire community – including those most vulnerable to discrimination.

Please visit for more information about ENDA and the Verdugo case.