MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – A licensed gun owner with a concealed weapon permit is suing the city of Miami Beach, claiming that he was fired for storing a handgun in his personal vehicle while he was at work.
The civil lawsuit, filed in circuit court in Miami Dade County, claims that former city employee Walder Stinfil, 37, of Pembroke Park, was wrongfully terminated in December 2013 for violating the city's workplace violence policy, which prohibits its employees from having a firearm within one's vehicle when it is parked in an employee parking lot.
The lawsuit says Stinfil's termination stemmed from a "falsely reported" altercation involving other city employees.
"On Sept. 23, 2013, Walder Stinfil was working with three other city employees from the sanitation department when they began to harass him," according to the complaint.
The complaint alleges that the employees called the Miami Beach Police Department and falsely reported that Stinfil had brandished a firearm at them.
Stinfil's vehicle, a Nissan Altima, was searched by law enforcement officers. During the search of the vehicle, Stinfil's firearm -- a 9 mm Beretta -- was discovered in a locked box secured inside the vehicle, the lawsuit says.
Stinfil was arrested, but the charges were dismissed in October 2013 because of conflicting and contradictory statements made by his co-workers who filed the report, according to the lawsuit.
Two months later, Stinfil was terminated for violating the city's policy.
Since then, he's been fighting back against the city while trying to find a job.
"It's been hell for me," said Stinfil, who was interviewed last month by phone. "I almost lost my house. My whole family is struggling to pay bills. I can't get hired anywhere because every time I apply, the employer Googles my name and the arrest is there."
Stinfil's attorney said the city discriminated against him.
"They discriminated against him as a lawful gun owner and lawful concealed carry holder," said attorney Noel Flasterstein. "Only the state Legislature can make laws, ordinances and regulations that pertain to firearms and ammunition."
Flasterstein, an avid shooter and firearms enthusiast, said his client's termination is a clear violation of Florida statues.
"Let this lawsuit serve as a warning for all cities and counties that discriminate against legal gun owners," he said. "We're going to come after you."
A lawyer for the city said there are no plans to settle the lawsuit outside court.
"Mr. Stinfil was fired for leaving his work assignment, driving across the city to his parked car, where he retrieved a handgun, and drove back across the city, before brandishing the weapon at his co-workers in a dispute over Gatorade," wrote Robert Rosenwald Jr., the first assistant city attorney. "He appealed his termination in binding arbitration and the termination was upheld. This lawsuit is a frivolous attempt to change the facts, and the city will fight it vigorously in court."
Stinfil told Local 10 News that he was treated unfairly by the city because he filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against the city in 2010 after he claimed that he was sexually harassed by his supervisor.