TAMPA — The union representing hundreds of employees at Hillsborough County’s transportation agency is demanding the resignation of the CEO as allegations of mismanagement and a poor workplace environment boil.
The announcement from ATU Local 1593 comes on the eve of a special board meeting scheduled after it was revealed the agency’s fourth-highest paid staffer was simultaneously working for a Louisiana public transit agency, in violation of both agencies’ employment policies.
The discovery has raised broader questions about the practices of chief executive Adelee Le Grand. Teri Wright had reported directly to Le Grand, who maintains she was unaware of Wright’s dual employment.
Le Grand, who has held the top position since the start of last year, could not immediately be reached for comment.
“HART has been in a downward spiral under the leadership of Adelee Le Grand,” union representatives Ismael Rivera and Brenda Moore said in a statement. “The departure of 57 employees by unjust firings and resignations, and numerous scandals including the hiring of double dipping Teri Wright have created a hostile workplace and toxic culture. Ms. Le Grand is ruling with an iron fist, it’s her way or the highway. Unfortunately, her highway leads to dysfunctional transit system. It’s time for the HART Board to remove Ms. Le Grand from her position as CEO.”
Morale at the agency is an an all-time low, Rivera told the Tampa Bay Times. The removal of several senior positions in recent weeks, including the director of safety and security and the director of human resources, has left union members unsure who to turn to with basic questions about payroll, health care, training and other concerns, he added.
Last week, board members of the transportation agency voiced support for an independent investigation into such allegations.
“The Board of HART takes very seriously the management issues that we’ve been hearing and reading about,” County Commissioner and board chairperson Pat Kemp said at the meeting, adding she has been in conversation with agency attorney David Smith about next steps.
In Tuesday’s meeting, board members are set to discuss details of how, when and by whom an external investigation should be undertaken.
Since April, chief customer experience officer Wright had been simultaneously working for a public transit agency in New Orleans — netting more than $350,000 per year and violating both agency’s employment policies, the Times previously reported.
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“She violated my trust in a way I didn’t even know was possible,” Le Grand said of Wright at last week’s meeting, adding that the agency is now taking steps to limit their remote work policy. Wright left the agency on Nov. 7.
“To negligently allow one of your trusted senior employees to double dip by working for another transit agency at the same, is shameful, appalling, and an insult to your employees, your riders, and the community you were hired to serve,” ATU International President John Costa said in a statement. “We call on the HART Board to remove Ms. Le Grand from her position immediately.”
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.