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Wrong for Florida: Rick Scott’s Record of Anti-Hispanic Policies Goes Back Decades

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Rick Scott’s record of consistently disrespecting Hispanics goes back much further than the racist jokes told by his senior staff.

In 2001, a former regional medical director of Solantic, a walk-in urgent-care center chain co-founded by Rick Scott, accused Scott of "encouraging 'mainstream hires' when faced with a Hispanic job candidate." Even a slight accent was reason for concern, according to one physician.

Ten years later, in 2010, Rick Scott made his support for bringing an Arizona-style immigration bill to Florida a centerpiece of his campaign for governor. 

Three years later, reelection Finance Chairman Mike Fernandez resigned following the Scott’s campaign’s unwillingness to listen to him, and after senior campaign staff mocked Mexican accents. Top members of Scott’s staff publicly trashed Mr. Fernandez, calling the man who wrote them a $1 million dollar check a "renegade donor.” This compelled Miami-Dade Expressway Authority member Gonzalo Sanabria to resign in protest, condemning the campaign's "disparaging and disrespectful” treatment of such a prominent Hispanic supporter.

As a corporate CEO, Rick Scott had the power to hire and fire people for his personal reasons. As a candidate, he had the power advocate for his pet causes. As Governor, he has the power to do much more: he vetoed of the Dreamer’s drivers license bill, waged an unconstitutional voter suppression campaign, and slashed Bright Futures merit scholarships.

"This is not a coincidence. There is a culture of intolerance this governor seems comfortable with. These repeated offenses have not — and will not — go unnoticed," said Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant. 

"Rick Scott can’t whitewash his record of anti-Hispanic policies. This Governor has refused to take responsibility for the discriminatory actions of his staff and embraces policies that unfairly target Hispanics. Rick Scott’s history on this issue will come back to haunt him in November," added Chair Tant.


Background

Former Regional Medical Director Accused Scott Of Encouraging ‘Mainstream’ Hires When Faced With A Hispanic Job Candidate.  According to The Miami Herald, “After Scott was forced to leave Columbia/HCA, he cofounded a chain of walk-in urgent-care centers, Solantic. A former regional medical director, David Yarian, accused him of encouraging ‘mainstream’ hires when faced with a Hispanic job candidate.” (Miami Herald, 6/29/10)

Former Solantic Employee: When A Hispanic Staffer Was About To Be Hired, He Said Scott Sent Him An E-Mail Encouraging ‘Mainstream’ Hires. According to the Tampa Bay Times, “In 2001, he co-founded a chain of walk-in urgent care centers, Solantic, centered around northeast Florida. He has faced controversies there, too. ‘I was watching television and saw his ad go on about him running for governor,’ said Dr. David Yarian, who was Solantic’s first regional medical director until he was fired after about five months. ‘My jaw dropped and I said, ‘Oh my God. I can’t have this.’ It scares me what he would do and how would he do it.’ Yarian said Scott was obsessed with appearances over qualifications and demanded only trim and fit employees be hired. When a Hispanic staffer was about to be hired, he said Scott sent him an e-mail encouraging ‘mainstream’ hires.” (Tampa Bay Times, 5/6/10

Former Employee: After Interviewing A Hispanic Man With A "Slight Accent… [Scott] Said, 'Nope. All Our Employees Have To Be Mainstream.'" According to Salon, “In November, though, Yarian interviewed a Hispanic man for a supervisory nurse position. ‘He was great. He had all the qualities and experience I was after,’ Yarian says. ‘But he had a slight accent. When Rick found out, he said, ‘Nope. All our employees have to be mainstream.’ Yarian, who is married to an African-American woman, felt that Scott’s odd obsession with weight and appearance might have just crossed a legal boundary. ‘Mainstream? What did that even mean?’ he says he remembers thinking. ‘It was just a very, very uncomfortable feeling to realize this after you got to know him.’” (Salon, 10/1/09

Between 2003 And 2005, Five Solantic Supervisors And Two Employees Claimed They Were Prevented From Hiring People Because Of Their Weight, Age, Or Race. According to Salon, “From 2003 to 2005, five Solantic supervisors, all working in different clinics, have claimed they were explicitly prevented from hiring people they deemed the most qualified because the candidates were either overweight, too old, Hispanic or black. The supervisors all prepared lawsuits with the same lawyer, claiming they were fired or forced to quit ‘because they did not want to enforce Solantic’s discriminatory practices,’ as their complaints state. Two employees corroborated specific incidents in their own lawsuits against the company.” (Salon, 10/1/09)

  • The Seven Employees Filed A Combined Lawsuit In 2006, And Solantic Settled The Case In 2007. According to Salon, “A combined suit on behalf of all seven plaintiffs was filed on July 14, 2006. On May 23, 2007, less than a year later, Solantic settled with all the women for an undisclosed sum. Because the settlement terms are confidential, with penalties for speaking publicly, all the plaintiffs contacted declined to be interviewed. Bowling, too, smiled tersely when asked about the cases, saying only; ‘Do we make hiring decisions based on a protected class of people? Absolutely not. And we have diversity training for our employees.’” (Salon, 10/1/09)