The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) will have a new chief executive after a 7-4 vote by county commissioners. Controversial transit CEO David Armijo has been dismissed after several employees complained about his actions.
County commissioners faced a quandary in Armijo’s case. Ridership increased on his watch, and the number of employees and routes grew. But Armijo ruffled feathers when he demoted or reprimanded employees who disagreed with him.
The most controversial move he made involved Olga Gonzalez, hired to be Armijo’s special assistant. While she was still serving her probationary period, Armijo promoted her to manager of executive policy and board relations, a position that paid $15,000 more than her original job. Several HART officials warned that the move exposed the Authority to pay equity issues and would inspire employee complaints.
On top of personnel irregularities, Armijo provoked conflict-of-interest charges by renting a Harbour Island condominium from a labor attorney who works with HART, and hiring his real estate agent’s wife. He allegedly also cashed out his unused vacation time in violation of HART policies.
Armijo was suspended while the commission deliberated. Ultimately, they elected to fire him and find a new CEO.
Note: Demoting dissenters and protecting cronies is a recipe for workplace strife—and potential litigation. Employers cannot allow managers to build little bailiwicks in this way. The result is often discontented employees, along with charges of discrimination.