Miami Springs Public Works Director Leaves Amid Claims of Sexual Harassment
In May, Robert T. Williams, the director of the Miami Springs Public Works, stepped down from his position after 23 years. Asked by the Miami Herald why he was leaving so suddenly, Williams said he felt disrespected by management's attempts to privatize his department.
"There's too much stress and friction here," he told the paper.
Turns out his resignation might have had more to do with a different type of "friction": A female employee has accused him in court of rubbing against her, touching her inappropriately, and sexually harassing her.
In a suit filed in February, Carolyn Howard charges that he repeatedly harassed her after she became his administrator in 2009. She's also suing the City of Miami Springs for allegedly ignoring her complaints and then docking her pay and firing her in retaliation.
Attorneys for Williams and Howard did not return calls to comment on the suit; Williams also hasn't responded to a message left on his cell phone. Miami Springs officials say they cannot comment on open litigation.
Howard's accusations are graphic. The suit says Williams grabbed Howard's breasts and rubbed against her, promised her raises if she had sex with him, and showed her porn. Howard says her boss repeatedly called her a "whore," a "stripper," and "that fucking bitch with big tits," sent her cell phone pictures of his penis, and forced her to have sex with him in his office.
What's worse, Howard says the city had no interest in stopping Williams. When she finally reported his behavior in January 2010, she was told by Miami Springs officials that his "sexually explicit behaviors... 'have always been that way' and that she 'should not take any offense to it,'" according to the lawsuit.
Instead, Howard says, the city demoted her and cut her pay for speaking out, all while Williams continued to harass her. As a final punishment, she says, the city fired her in February.
Howard is seeking damages, back wages, and benefits.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Miami New Times' biggest stories.