Moms with babies forced to wait turn outside Plant City DMV in heat, mother says

PLANT CITY, Fla. (WFLA) – A Hillsborough County mother believes she was wrongfully asked to leave a Plant City DMV because her baby was with her.

Liz Gatley says her 1-year-old daughter London wasn’t crying or making noises when the assistant manager at the DMV on James L. Redman Parkway told her and another mother to wait outside on Thursday.

Gatley says the other baby was so quiet, she didn’t realize another child was in there as well.

“It was freaking hot. I was sweating and I was wearing shorts and a tank top,” Gatley said.

Gatley says the manager told her that people were taking tests and that they didn’t want any disturbances.

Gatley says she ended up waiting two hours, standing on the sidewalk with a sweating baby.

“A matter of 40 seconds in my mind, I was thinking is this even allowed. What would happen if I sit down and tell her no?” Gatley said.

County Tax Collector Doug Belden says if Gatley’s story is correct, the assistant manager didn’t follow normal protocol.

He says parents are rarely asked to leave tax collector offices unless children are truly causing a disturbance.

News Channel 8 asked if someone could be fired for something like this:

“I don’t know,” Beldon said. “I can’t say that now. But I will tell you this: If what’s been printed in the media (is true,) I will not tolerate sending children out, particularly a single mom.”

Gatley believes the manager was rude and out of place.

“Do I think she should lose her job over this or anything? Not necessarily but I do think there needs to be more proper training with her,” Gatley said.

Belden says benches will be installed outside all tax collector offices.

His office released the following statement:

Providing excellent service and a pleasant experience for our customers is Doug Belden’s top priority. ‘I expect my managers and all employees to use good judgment when addressing sensitive situations and interacting with customers,’ Belden states.

Belden apologizes to his constituents and ensures that this incident is not representative of the organization’s culture. This incident will be addressed immediately with Ms. Gatley as well as the employee at which time Belden will take appropriate actions. Belden continues on to state, ‘I can assure our customers, we will use this as a learning opportunity and provide additional training and guidance to all of our staff to ensure our customers are treated with compassion and respect and receive the great customer service expected from our office.’

Tax collector Doug Belden spoke directly to Ms. Gatley yesterday to apologize and is in the process of scheduling a meeting as soon as her schedule permits.

In addition, the tax collector is planning to add benches outside of all tax collector locations for the convenience of our customers.

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