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Carolyn Hicks Washington

3613 Lime Hill Road

Lauderhill, Florida 33319

December 11, 2017

Carolyn Hicks Washington’s Response to EEOC Investigator Mr. Michael Mathelier’s Additional

1. In your charge you indicated that Respondent had a pattern of practice of replacing the
Director and Assistant Director with younger employees. Do you remember the age of
Andrea Ayala and Scott Strawbridge?

I do not know the age of Andrea Ayala or Scott Strawbridge. That information can easily be provided by the

I have never implied and/or indicated that the Respondent had a pattern and practice of replacing the
Director and Assistant Director with younger employees. Mrs. Lopez and I held Director and Assistant
Director positions with the HACFL for ten years.

I did state that Mr. English had a pattern and practice of changing titles to positions, removing employees
and creating new positions that ultimately went to his predominately white friends and associates. Majority
of those let go were black and/or of color (e.g. Phillip Goombs [former CEO of HACFL], Noel Graham) and
majority of those hired were white (e.g. Rebecca Walters, Scott Strawbridge, Robert Evans). This is classic
nepotism and constitutes a pattern of practice of employment discrimination based on race, color and/or
perceived national origin by my employer because. I referenced Mr. Goombs, an African American male
over the age of 40, because in order to become CEO for the HACFL, Mr. English (then a member of the
HACFL’s Board of Commissioners) falsely accused Mr. Goombs of fraud, which ultimately resulted in his
resignation. Key word is “falsely.” Mr. English plotted to get Mr. Goombs fired and then took this job. During
the EEOC’s investigation of my complaint, Mr. English had the audacity to hire Mrs. Baer (a white woman)
who was recently convicted of engaging in fraudulent activity (e.g. embezzlement) at her previous place of
employment – a housing authority in Arkansas. To my knowledge, multiple employees of color applied for
this position but were told by Mr. English not to apply for the job because he was not going to hire anyone

I also stated that I believed my termination was discriminatory based on my age because on more than one
occasion, Mr. English would mention to my supervisor, Veronica Lopez and I that we were getting older
and asked who would replace us. In or around early 2015, we shared that we trained several employees
who could take over our positions. During the time of discharge, he rehired an employee that mismanaged
and altered a program the day prior to leaving in 2015, which he was informed along with Mike Tadros,
CFO and Andrea Ayala, HR. If he removed the Assistant Director of Assisted Housing position, I was still
in the role of Intake Coordinator, which would have been a demotion, but it still was job within the agency
which I had invested over 10 years and was gaining financial wealth along with exceptional health
benefits. Upon leaving the agency, my health has decreased. My type 2 diabetics is on the rise and high
blood pressure. Medical coverage I currently have is twice as much as the coverage held at the housing

For these reasons and more, I believe the reason given by Mr. English and Mike Tadros (two white males)
for my discharge was a pretext for their racially and sexually biased termination despite ten years of
exceptional performance and dedicated service to the HACFL and the Broward community.
2. Did Respondent replace them with you and Veronica Lopez as Director and Assistant

No. Ayala and Strawbridge are both still employed with the HACFL. Ayala, a 30 year veteran with the
HACFL, was given a new position as the Human Resource Director. Strawbridge retained his position as
Director of Facilities and Development.

3. Were you and Veronica prepared by Respondent to take over the role of Director and
Assistant Director of Section 8?

On August 20, 2005, I was hired as the Assistant Director of Section 8. Veronica Lopez was already
employed as the Director of Section 8. I was prepared for this position because I had twenty years worth
of experience working for the Housing Authority in Winston-Salem, N.C., Savannah, GA and Orlando, FL
prior to being hired by the HACFL. In those twenty years, I attended and completed numerous workshops
and seminars related to public housing as a way to continue my education and keep abreast of the latest
developments happening in my industry. In 2010, our titles changed. Veronica Lopez became the Director
of Assisted Housing. I became the Assistant Director of Assisted Housing, which included managing the
Section 8 program, Section 8 and Public Housing waiting lists and six (6) Public Housing Developments.

4. Do you know if Andrea and Scott were terminated because of their age as well or were they
transferred to another department?

Ayala and Strawbridge were never terminated, and I have never stated such. See answer to question 2.

Around 2010, Tam English, CEO, transferred the Family Self-Sufficiency program from Scott Strawbridge
to the Section 8 Department. He then reassigned the Intake Coordinator (waiting lists management position)
and all Public Housing developments to the Assisted Housing Department.

5. How old were you when you started in the department and was promoted into the position?

I was the 45 years old when I was hired as Assistant Director of Assisted Housing. I was 50 years old when
I was promoted to Assistant Director of Assisted Housing.

6. You indicated Mr. English met with you and Ms. Lopez about training other employees to
take over your role. Did they want you to select someone as qualified or younger and could
do the work load if so do you have any evidence?

Mr. English never met with Mrs. Lopez and I about training other employees to take over our roles. In my
charge, I stated, “Mr. English on more than one occasion mentioned to my Supervisor and I that we were
getting older and who do we have to replace us. We shared that we have trained several employees who
could take over our positions.”

7. Did the agency look[ ] to fill the department [with] more younger employees? If so, why do
you suppose?

To my knowledge, the agency did not explicitly look to fill the department with more younger employees.
Most discussions about hiring, would have occurred Andrea Ayala in Human Resources. I can say however,
that there were many young people without a college degree were hired.

8. Did the department suffer a higher turn over prior to you being hired, why do you believe
the employees who quit, were over worked and under paid? Stressed out due to the work
load, or quit because of the management style you and Ms. Lopez exhibited.
I am not aware if the department suffered a higher turn over prior to my employment. That information can
only be provided by the Respondent. I can say that the department’s staff was small when I began working
at the HACFL and the workforce grew during the ten years that I was employed.

In large cities nationwide, the Occupancy Specialist position has a high rate of turnover. This job handles
case management for a constantly busy government agency. This involves dealing with a large volume of
paperwork, which includes manual and computer based files. Not to mention, this is a low-paying job.

I maintain that I did not have a harsh management style and I did not play a pivotal role in the department’s
high turnover rate. Like any place of employment, employees left our department for various reasons (e.g.
relocating, inter and intra-department transfers, promotions, quitting due to demanding workload, etc.)
Others quit due to the management style of the Occupancy Specialist supervisors (e.g. Raquel Brutus-
Thomas), which the information was brought to the attention of HR. The Occupancy Specialist Supervisors
were under my leadership, but a large number of employees who quit were Occupancy Specialists and I
did not deal with them on a day-to-day basis. The HACFL is aware of this fact, yet they are trying to
manipulate and distort the facts in their attempt to mislead and deceive the finder of fact. I encourage the
EEOC investigator to pull records and exit interviews of all employees who left the agency from the time I
was hired (2005) to present (2017) and their reasons for leaving.

It is also true that a few colleagues that I oversaw rated me negatively. Four exit interviews were provided
the Respondents. I cannot think of too many other former employees of the HACFL that would have
something negative to say about my management style. Ultimately, 4 unfavorable exit interviews means
that one person every 2.5 years didn’t like me and/or my management style. That is perfectly okay and not
worthy of terminating or refusing to rehire me. It is because of my management style that the HACFL met
majority of its deadlines. The EEOC should interview Mrs. Lopez to get her opinion on my management
style and if she would agree with the respondents that our management style was “harsh” and led to a
specific department’s high turnover.

9. Did Mr. English or you ever initiate talks on retirement from the role you held?


10. Did you ever act as the Acting Director during your tenure with the agency?

No, I was discharged before the Director’s position was publicly advertised.

11. Do you believe you had more educational qualification then the Director Respondent hired
instead of you?

I do not personally know any of the women who were hired for the Director position. I think the investigator
should ask the Respondents to provide the resumes of the three individuals who were hired for this position
within the last year. Then, the investigator can objectively determine who had “more educational
qualification.” I am certain that the three individuals did not have more years of experience working in
Section 8.

12. Did Respondent send you any denial notice to hire or interview due to your previous role in
the department as Assistant Director?

The Respondent did not send me a denial notice to hire or interview when I applied for the position of
Director of Housing Choice Voucher Program on 11/23/2015 and 3/5/2017.

13. Did you send any email to respondent for any status update for the position?

I sent the following email to Andrea Ayala, HR on 1/26/2016 as stated below:

Carolyn Washington
Jan 26, 2016 at 9:49 AM
Good morning Ms. Ayala,
I submitted my resume on November 23, 2015 to for the position of Director of Housing
Choice Voucher Program and was inquiring if the position has been filled.

Thanks in advance for your immediate response to my request.

Respectfully submitted,
Carolyn Hicks Washington

Response from Andrea Ayala:

Andrea Ayala
Jan 29, 2016 at 12:20 PM
Ms. Washington,

Yes, the position that you are inquiring about has been filled.

Thank you for your continued interest in a position with the Housing Authority of the City of Fort
Lauderdale, Florida.
Andrea Ayala
Housing Authority of the City of Ft. Lauderdale
T. 954-556-4100 Ext. 1202

14. Timeline you stated that you applied for the Director of Housing Voucher program position
which was an open position the same department you were terminated.

I have already provided this information but again, the timeline of me applying for the Director of Housing
Voucher program is below:

11/13/2015: I was discharged from the position as Assistant Director of Assisted Housing (the position
included working as the Intake Coordinator (filled by Anita Flores, a person under the age of 40) and Director
of Public Housing).

11/23/2015: I applied for the position of Director of Housing Choice Voucher Program

1/6/2016: I sent an email to Andrea Ayala, HR, inquiring if the position had been filled.

3/5/2017: I reapplied for the position of Director of Housing Choice Voucher Program.

If the HACFL believed Mrs. Barbara Baer was the most qualified individual for this job, then their refusal to
rehire me is clearly racially discriminatory.
15. Why do you believe Respondent discriminated against you for that position?

I believe that the ultimate reason why I was abruptly discharged by the HACFL’s CEO Tam English and
CFO Michael Tadros — two white males — and why the HACFL refused to rehire me to another position
commensurate with my experience was due to the fact that I was an African American woman over the age
of 50.

The HACFL terminated two women of color without legitimate cause who were exceptional employees and
received overwhelmingly positive evaluations over the course of a decade. The HACFL and Mr. English
have a pattern and practice of removing qualified people of color from their jobs to create positions for his
white friends and associates, and he feels he can do whatever he wants, especially to women of color.
Although the Respondent has argued that my termination was due to my “harsh” management style, this is
nothing but a pretext for unlawfully terminating me due to me being a woman of color over the age of 50. I
was treated differently in the terms and conditions of my employment, which can be demonstrated by the
HACFL’s decision to hire Mrs. Baer — a white woman who engaged in felonious activity while employed at
the Housing Authority in Arkansas and had an extremely high turnover rate at her previous place of
employment — during the EEOC’s investigation. The record clearly shows that had I been a white woman
like Mrs. Baer, I would still be employed with the HACFL, although Mrs. Baer was recently terminated.