After seven years of filing complaints against their prominent county boss, Linda Pierre and other female employees finally found traction in August. An investigation by the federal government found that CareerSource South Florida executive director Rick Beasley had subjected the women to a “pattern of harassment, intimidation, exclusion, bullying ... conditions due to their sex.”
The ruling was a relief for the group that calls themselves the Workforce-8, but its ramifications are unclear. It's been two months since the Equal Employment Opportunity issued the letter and Beasley still sits at the helm of the agency, which has $70 million in state and federal funds to help local job seekers. None of the women have received any compensation.
But after a series of New Times articles about the allegations — which Beasley denies — a county government source said that the allegations against the embroiled CareerSource director would be the center of a board meeting yesterday. That wasn't the case. Instead, County Attorneys Shanika Graves and Leona MacFarlane sat beside Beasley and instructed board members not to speak to the media.
“Whatever said in a public forum is precedent to litigation against the board,” Graves warned at the public board meeting. “I'm available if any board member wants to speak and has questions on the EEOC and the potential litigation that may ensue.”
Despite Graves's statement, board members continued speaking amongst themselves for approximately 12 minutes. One board member admitted about knowing about the EEOC ruling for months but didn't want to “have a big mouth.”
“As a board, we have to clear this up,” he said. “We have to find out what happened. These are serious allegations.”
Graves spoke up and pointed out that the county's Office of Fair Employment had received allegations against Beasley but did not find evidence to corroborate any of the claims. (However, the complainants believe that the fed's findings reveal flaws in the county's investigation due to conflicts of interest linking Beasley and the director of the Office of Fair Employment Practices who is also a board member.)
“The EEOC investigation of findings ... was issued based on testimonial evidence, not factual or concrete that binds in a court of law,” Graves said.
When a female board member explained that she met with the Office of Fair Employment Practices for clarity on the allegations, Graves stepped in. “You can stop,” she said sternly.
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Andrea Vanias, a former female employee who has filed multiple discrimination complaints against CareerSource, attended the board meeting. She was disappointed.
“I think the county attorneys put fear in the board not to discuss the matter and to also not look into the investigation or allegations for themselves,” Vanias said after the meeting. “And the fact that everything they say is subject to suit shut them up and the meeting adjourned.”
Miami-Dade spokesperson Michael Hernandez did not respond immediately to calls and emails requesting comment. Beasley has denied any wrongdoing in the complaints.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misattributed a quote from a board member to Luis Gazitua.