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Louis and Anches also claim they were passed over for promotions because they are black and say South Florida Blood Banks has few, if any, minorities in positions of power. Blood bank officials deny that accusation. At the October meeting with New Timesthey said they would produce a list of positions filled by minority employees. But their e-mailed response November 1 stated only: "We have an equally wide variety of minority managers from the senior management level to line supervisors."
In the discrimination lawsuit filed by Louis and Anches this past September, they claim South Florida Blood Banks deliberately scams donors by telling them their donations will help poor children overseas. The West Palm company launched the Children's World Blood Bank in March of this year with the promise of helping 10,000 children each year in poor countries. Flynn kicked off the effort with a $2500-a-plate dinner at the Breakers in Palm Beach. Attendees included Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and former Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. Mikhail Gorbachev headlined a second event this month, with tickets at $350 a pop. Despite the hype, no blood has been sent out of the country, and South Florida Blood Banks admits it isn't sure when it will begin. Yet promotional material notes the blood bank has agreed "to donate ten units of blood monthly to designated hospitals in countries where there is a critical need for safe blood."
South Florida Blood Banks officials say Louis and Anches are merely disgruntled former employees. The firm does require its workers to sign noncompete waivers, board member Lyman concedes, but that's only a response to Community Blood Centers' "raiding" of its staff. And Louis and Anches, he says, gain by making the claims in the lawsuit because hurting their former employer can only help their output at their new jobs. "All I'll say," he adds, "is consider the source."
Today competition between Community Blood Centers and South Florida Blood Banks has become so ferocious that the groups accuse each other of weaseling in on drives. Both say their competitor's mobile units sometimes show up hours or days early at blood-drive sites to steal potential donors (and donors can only give once every two months). South Florida Blood Banks declined to give examples of this, but Community employees produced a list of about a dozen cases. New Times, however, was unable to verify claims from either side.
The dispute has even dissuaded some people from giving blood, says Mayte McConnell, a supervisor at Memorial Blood Bank, the third-largest in South Florida. Memorial collects about 24,000 units a year, a fraction of the blood garnered by the big two, and ships it mainly to Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital in Hollywood. "The Publixes and car dealers are sick of us calling them and bugging them," McConnell says. "[South Florida Blood Banks and Community Blood Centers] have given them a bad impression of what blood banking is like. They're both at it for the money ... and the competition is just hurting them."