Conflicts of Interest Allegedly Kept County From Investigating CareerSource Boss Rick Beasley

In recent years, at least four employees at CareerSource South Florida filed complaints with the county about Roderick “Rick” Beasley, the executive director of a public agency that uses $70 million in state and federal funds to find employment for local job seekers. They alleged that Beasley — who earns more than Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez — regularly bullied and verbally abused employees.

For years, though, the complaints went nowhere with the County's Office of Fair Employment Practices. It wasn't until the complainers took their cases to the feds that action came, in the form of an August ruling from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that Beasley had in fact subjected female employees to a “pattern of harassment, intimidation, exclusion, bullying...conditions due to their sex.”

So why did the feds find evidence that the county couldn't? Four complainants who spoke to New Times point to an alleged conflict of interest between Lucia Davis-Raiford, director of the Office of Fair Employment Practices, and Beasley.

Lucia Davis-Raiford did not respond to an email message from New Times. County spokesperson Jackie Anghel-Novick says the county is not aware of any conflicts of interest involving Davis-Raiford and would not comment on the EEOC's findings. Beasley has declined to discuss the complaints in depth, but denies wrongdoing and says "These women are going after me." 

Here's how the complainants paint the problem: Davis-Raiford, who has worked in County government since 2003, is the daughter of Carrie Meek, a former U.S. representative from Miami. 
Davis-Raiford's brother, Kendrick Meek, a former Florida representative, is part of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, an organization with well-known members such as Bill Cosby, Michael Jordan, and Rev. Jesse Jackson. Beasley is currently president of the local Omega Psi Phi chapter where Meek is also a member.

Davis-Raiford is also one of 37 board members at CareerSource South Florida. Collectively, the board votes and advises Beasley on the direction of CareerSource South Florida. The board is also responsible for hiring and firing the executive director.

Those close ties are suspicious, complainants allege, considering that Davis-Raiford personally signed off on every dismissal of allegations against Beasley.

Lori Howard, a former CareerSource director, filed one such complaint against Beasley in 2010. She said that Beasley would threaten and harass her daily. "I literally pray each day to get through it," she wrote to the Office of Fair Employment Practices. "He goes into rages and says degrading and intimidating things such as 'I'm going to write you out of the budget' or 'You need to kiss my ass' or 'When I see a woman without stockings, I wonder what they did for lunch.' It was very degrading."

Howard didn't hear back for two years. On June 21, 2012, after interviewing Beasley and four others, investigators ruled there wasn't enough information to establish an unlawful-harassment claim: "There is no reasonable cause to believe that the South Florida Workforce has engaged in any unfair employment practices."

Linda Pierre, another former CareerSource employee, received a similar letter from the Office of Fair Employment Practices in 2012, too. So did an anonymous complainant who filed on behalf of a woman that Beasley allegedly called a “whore” during a 2006 business meeting. (OFEP investigators say they were unable to corroborate that claim.)

Jose Bonilla, a former CareerSource employee, also filed a complaint with the Office of Fair Employment Practices and received the same letter stating there was “no reasonable cause” to believe you were discriminated against. 

Davis-Raiford's name appears on all four close-out memos obtained by New Times. But the fair employment office denies that her ties to Beasley influenced the cases.

“OFEP conducted extensive investigation(s) of various complaints filed against CareerSource South Florida, which included numerous witness interviews with both male and female employees and document review,” Anghel-Novick said in a statement to New Times. “The findings of our investigation(s) revealed that there was insufficient evidence to suggest that any of the alleged conduct was based on a protected characteristic, such as sex.”

Howard, however, disagrees. She believes that the EEOC's reporting that Beasley does discriminate show that there were flaws in the county's investigation.

“How could [Davis-Raiford] come to the conclusion—with that many people complaining!—that there was 'no reasonable cause'?” Howard asks. “The only answer that makes sense is that there was a conflict of interest that she did not disclose to us. It wasn't fair.”

Beasley and Davis-Raiford are scheduled to attend a CareerSource South Florida Board Meeting this morning at 9:30 a.m. Allegations about Beasley's behavior will likely be discussed, county government sources say.
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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