After Another Woman Complains of Discrimination at CareerSource, Director Receives Award

For the least seven years, numerous female employees have been reporting their prominent county boss and the work environment at his agency to the authorities — all to no avail. Then, in August, the federal government handed down a ruling after investigating allegations against CareerSource South Florida's executive director Roderick “Rick” Beasley. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that Beasley had indeed subjected female employees to a “pattern of harassment, intimidation, exclusion, bullying ... conditions due to their sex.”

But three months have passed since that ruling and Beasley still sits at the helm of the agency, which has $70 million in state and federal funds to help local job seekers. In fact, on Thursday Beasley — who made $179,676 in 2013 — received an award and was honored at Take Stock in Children Miami-Dade's 20th Anniversary Luncheon.

The award come right on the heels of another woman filing a new abuse complaint about CareerSource with the EEOC. 

“This is not right,” says Helena Pivarnik, one of the women who have complained about Beasley. “I don't see how anyone can praise him with these allegations coming out.”

A county spokesperson has repeatedly declined comment on Beasley and the complaints. At a recent board meeting, county attorneys instructed CareerSource's board members not to speak to reporters. County attorney Leona MacFarlane did not return a message seeking comment on the most recent complaint or the award.

Beasley has denied any wrongdoing. "I treat all men and women, black and white, fairly," Beasley told New Times.

The latest complaint filed was filed with the EEOC on Oct. 19 by Maria Castro. The 54-year-old woman says she resigned in February after abuse by a supervisor at CareerSource became too much, she says. According to the complaint, she believes she was targeted because of her Spanish accent and disability, fibromilagia. She says that she was retaliated against for reporting her supervisor, Anna McKee, to her union. (McKee has not returned messages seeking comment on that complaint.)

“I cried everyday I worked there,” Castro says in Spanish. “I didn't speak up at first to keep my job. But I went to the union when I couldn't take it anymore. That's when I signed my death sentence.”

The way Castro tells it, she worked at CareerSource's corporate headquarters in Doral for 17 years as a certification specialist. She only ran into problems when her current supervisor began working there 10 years ago. She contends McKee teased her for her accent, yelled at her constantly, and called her a “refugee.”

Castro says she believes the bullying traces back to Beasley's leadership at the agency. “The supervisors adopt Beasley's behavior and mistreat employees to look good in the boss's eyes,” Castro says in an interview. “Beasley mandates everything.”

In September 2014, Castro went to the union to report the alleged abuse. She says it only made things worse. When she returned to work, she claims she was stripped of all her job duties even though she was still on the payroll. “Anna McKee said when you went to the union you signed your death sentence because Mr. Beasley says to stay out of his business,” Castro claims.

In November, the stress became so much that Castro had to be rushed from work to the hospital. A coworker noticed her slurring her speech. Doctors diagnosed her with a brain ischemia. She was hospitalized for three days.

In February, Castro resigned. She hasn't been able to find work since. She says she's on food stamps and medicaid. 

But at least one local foundation thinks CareerSource is doing great work, though. Last night, Take Stock in Children honored Beasley at a ceremony meant to “highlight Rick Beasley, executive director of CareerSource South Florida. Beasley's vision for South Florida Workforce is to create a model for the nation by establishing a world-class labor force that fosters economic growth with education ties.”

Beasley has ties to the foundation that honored him. In 2009, Beasley presented a $1 million check to benefit two non-profits, one of them being Take Stock in Children. Months prior his agency had provided Take Stock in Children $300,000. The executive director of Take Stock in Children declined comment for this story; a media spokesperson did not return repeated messages seeking comment on the award and the recent allegations against Beasley.

“I'm so surprised that a person so bad is getting an award,” Castro says. “It's frustrating that this community continues to support him when I reported him just last week.”
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Jess Swanson is the news editor at New Times. She graduated from the University of Miami and has a master's degree from the Columbia University School of Journalism.
Contact: Jess Swanson