River Cities

Attorney: Miami Springs official was fired ‘because he does not speak Spanish’

Shortly after Miami Springs eliminated the position of chief building official held by Edwin “Skip” Reed, Reed's attorney requested that he be reinstated.

“Mr. Reed does not accept or agree with the city’s decision to terminate him, as he believes that the decision was made because of his age, and as a result of reverse discrimination because he does not speak Spanish,” wrote attorney and former North Miami Mayor Frank Wolland, in a May 7 letter to the city obtained by the Herald through a public records request.

Wolland added: “Kindly also accept this letter as a formal objection by Mr. Reed to the decision to terminate him, and a formal request that he be reinstated to his position immediately.”

However, the City of Miami Springs asserts that Reed’s former position was phased out. The building official and code compliance director’s jobs have been consolidated into one position.

“Skip has been formally advised by me that the city’s part-time building official position is being eliminated as of Friday, May 8,” wrote City Manager Ron Gorland in an email dated April 24 to the human resources department. “I agreed to Skip’s request to keep this as quiet as possible until he’s departed May 8.”

Gorland then wrote that he verbally informed the city council about Reed’s departure.

Reed applied for the consolidated position but was not selected, personnel records show.

“We should continue to process Ulises [Fernandez] with a start date that is no later than May 9,” Gorland wrote in his April 24 email. Fernandez has since been hired as the city’s new building official/code compliance director.

Reed refused to accept a city severance check for $4,350, which represented two weeks’ pay at $75 per hour, according to his attorney.

According to Reed’s personnel file, he served as the city’s chief building official since May 2005. He last earned $101,914.50 in annual salary and benefits, records show. Though Reed’s age is not listed on his employment application, it shows he graduated from Edison High School in 1961.

Reed asked the city May 7, through his attorney, to “engage in presuit mediation.”

City Manager Ron Gorland declined comment.

An email to Reed’s attorney seeking comment was not returned.