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Virginia Beach deputy clerk resigns, citing toxic work environment

Robyn Riddick said the city’s "toxic energy" was the reason for her leaving her position.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Virginia Beach will have to find a new deputy clerk after Robyn Riddick resigned from her position Tuesday morning. 

She told 13News Now the city’s "toxic energy" was the reason for her leaving her position.

This is not the first time that phrase has been used in reference to Virginia Beach.

Musician and Virginia Beach native Pharrell William used it last month in a letter sent to the city, where he talked about his disappointment in the way Virginia Beach handled the death of his cousin, Donovon Lynch, who was shot by a police officer.

Williams said the city’s “toxic energy” played a part in his decision not to bring back the Something in the Water festival.

Riddick said that letter led her to write one of her own to Virginia Beach’s mayor, city council, and other city leaders.

“I resigned due to just some situations that happen within the office that I felt were very hostile... toxic is what I would use,” said Riddick. 

Riddick explained one conversation with her supervisor about a co-worker and colleague who worked in another office.

“We are all African American and she said, 'I know you all like to hang out, because you all look alike.' And I just kind of stood there,” said Riddick. 

Riddick said Pharrell Williams’ letter to the city expressing his concern about a "toxic energy" in Virginia Beach is one reason she found the courage to quit.

“When Pharrell came out with his letter, I was out on leave and I kind of had already experienced a few things before that. And I could see what he was saying. I could understand what he was saying and lining it up with just the things that I have gone through,” said Riddick. 

Riddick said she hopes by speaking out she can help clear the way for better communication in the city. 

“I’m not one to pin everybody to be racists ... everyone is not racist, some people just don’t understand. They don’t get that what they’re saying could hurt someone or could offend someone,” she said.

A City of Virginia Beach spokesperson told 13News Now the city cannot comment on personnel matters.