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Miami-Dade Employee Says She Was Sexually Harassed at Ceremony Honoring Women Leaders

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On March 21, 2012, Beverly Washington — a high-ranking supervisor in Miami-Dade's solid waste department — left work and headed to the Biltmore in Coral Gables to attend "In the Company of Women," the county's annual ceremony honoring women leaders. But amidst the messages of female empowerment that night, Washington says a male colleague, Michael Moore, used the opportunity to sexually harass her, whispering "kiss me" to Washington and attempting to lick her ear.

The incident is just one instance of harassment laid out by Washington in a new lawsuit against the county, Moore, and two more of her former coworkers. In her complaint, Washington describes numerous occasions of clear workplace harassment but says the county did little to stop the men from behaving badly.

"[Miami-Dade County] was aware of the hostile work environment that [Washington] was subjected to but failed to implement and enforce remedial action," the lawsuit says.

Washington's attorney, Tarlesha Smith, did not respond to a message from New Times. Neither did the county, nor the three men named in the suit — Michael Moore, Paul Mauriello, and Mark Brown.

Washington, 57, started working for Miami-Dade in 1993 and climbed the ranks until she was promoted in 2005 to chief of the solid waste management enforcement division, a job where she oversaw 60 employees. In her new role, she worked closely with Michael Moore, the assistant director of Solid Waste Management.  Washington, who is black, says she was first harassed by Moore when he told her he liked "dark meat," a comment he allegedly made while staring her "up and down" with his hand held near his crotch.

After the comment and incident at the awards banquet, Washington says she reported Moore to the director of Solid Waste Management, Kathleen Woods Richardson, who said she would handle it. According to the lawsuit, however, the harassment only got worse. In May of 2012, Washington says Moore rubbed his legs against hers during a meeting and commented to her on another occasion, "'If you look this good now and are driving men crazy,' he could only imagine how I looked in my 20s."

Washington says a second male colleague, Mark Brown, also made sexually explicit comments about her to their coworkers and her friends. The lawsuit says Brown stalked Washington at her home and once confronted her in the dark parking garage at work. Washington reported the behavior to Brown's supervisor and filed a complaint with the Miami Gardens Police Department.

Eventually, Brown was placed on a five-day suspension, but at a follow-up meeting, Washington says Moore's supervisor, Paul Mauriello, "was visibly annoyed" and asked if she planned to sue the department. Later, Mauriello also made sexually explicit comments and derogatory remarks about Washington's breasts and dark skin, according to the lawsuit. Washington reported his comments to Richardson but says Richardson did not investigate the complaint.

Finally, on July 17, 2013, more than a year after Washington first reported being sexually harassed, she says she was notified that she was being removed from her position and transferred to another department. The lawsuit says Washington's husband was also removed from his county position that day.

Washington filed joint complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Florida Commission on Human Relations in May 2014.

While those complaints were pending, Richardson and Moore left Miami-Dade County and moved to jobs with the City of Miramar. In his new job as chief operations officer, Moore was accused of harassing another woman, an executive assistant named Georgina Cid. Cid, who filed a federal lawsuit against Miramar in April 2016, said Moore and now-City Manager Vernon Hargray discriminated against her based on her Cuban origin by tasking her with cleaning assignments, demoting her to a lower position, and eventually firing her. This summer, a federal jury sided with Cid, awarding her $300,000.

As of now, none of the parties has responded to Washington's suit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. No hearings have been scheduled.

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