One of Tampa Bay’s main job placement agencies is laying off more than 130 employees this summer as it separates from its sister office under increasing federal and state scrutiny.
Staffers at CareerSource Tampa Bay received notice Friday that they will lose their jobs Aug. 31. Word came from leaders at CareerSource Pinellas, the employer of record for both its workers and those of CareerSource Tampa Bay in neighboring Hillsborough County.
For years, the two job centers shared staff services and a leader, president and CEO Edward Peachey, who was fired this spring. CareerSource Tampa Bay board members voted to separate from CareerSource Pinellas after federal and state officials began investigating whether the agencies inflated their hiring numbers.
CareerSource Tampa Bay decided to rebuild its staff from scratch, but administrators have said they hope many of the laid off workers return to similar positions.
"We anticipate that once (CareerSource Tampa Bay) begins the interview process, many of these individuals will be hired by them," said CareerSource Pinellas interim executive director Jennifer Brackney. "As we move forward, we encourage all staff to apply for open positions."
Agency leaders and board members have talked about the layoffs for more than a month, but they didn’t formally notify employees until Friday.
Brackney said 133 staffers received the layoff notice out of 212 employed between both agencies. The job centers had planned to separate by July 1 but recently delayed the split until Sept. 1.
The move comes as leaders await reports from the U.S. Department of Labor and Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, which are reviewing whether the centers for years reported they got jobs for people who never sought their help.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican who in February called for a federal investigation, last week tacked on language to legislation that will require the Labor Department to brief the Senate Appropriations Committee when it wraps up its review.
Rubio, along with several other federal and state lawmakers, have questioned whether tax dollars were misspent at CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. The two nonprofits are funded by public money and are part of a network of 24 job placement agencies across Florida.
For years, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay touted themselves as among the state’s best jobs agencies. They placed well in employment competitions and posted strong hiring numbers each year.
The investigations were touched off in January after the Tampa Bay Times raised questions with the DEO about the local offices’ job placement figures.