SAN ANTONIO – For the third time in less than a month, Bexar County Assistant County Manager Tina Smith-Dean has been accused in legal filings of retaliating against fellow county employees.
Dr. Allen Castro, an 18-year employee of the county who has most recently worked as a substance abuse program manager, stated in a June 27 lawsuit that Smith-Dean has targeted him for years.
“This retaliation discrimination is intentional, willful, and knowingly malicious. It is also characteristic of a larger pattern of retaliation discrimination by Mrs. Tina Smith-Dean that has been directed not just at PLAINTIFF but at other current and former employees with EEOC cases pending against her,” the suit filed in state district court states.
The suit claims that while the other employees of the county’s Office of Criminal Justice were moved to a new floor last summer, Castro was required to stay behind.
Castro made his concerns about the move known via email and verbally, claiming being left on a different floor would be a detriment to his work and create a stigma since he was the only OCJ staffer not moving, the suit states.
County leadership informed Castro “there was no room for him in the suite of offices on the 9th floor,” according to the suit.
“PLAINTIFF alleges that the true purpose of not being moved to the 9th floor is retaliation discrimination by Mrs. Tina Smith-Dean against him,” the suit states.
Records show Castro filed state and federal employment complaints last July. He was issued a dismissal and a right to sue letter in late April, according to records.
The suit also reveals that Castro, who has played a prominent role in the county’s groundbreaking opioid lawsuit, provided nearly four hours of testimony and significant documentation during an independent investigation of Smith-Dean launched after another employee filed a complaint against her.
That investigation, conducted by Kelmar Global Investigations, concluded last year that the allegations against Smith-Dean could not be substantiated, county officials previously said.
“The BEXAR COUNTY Criminal District Attorney’s Office (D.A.’s Office) concluded that no criminal malfeasance took place; however, PLAINTIFF would argue that the D.A.’s Office has a conflict of interest between its role as criminal prosecutor and its role as civil attorney for the County. The D.A.’s Office- in collaboration with the County Manager’s Office- has cultivated a ‘cover up culture’ in which victims are silenced and those with corroborating information and similar experience are diminished, discounted, and discarded. The conclusions reached by the D.A.’s Office and accepted by the County Manager’s Office are self-serving and short-sighted,” the suit states.
County spokeswoman Monica Ramos this week refused to discuss the latest lawsuit naming Smith-Dean, stating via email the county does not comment on pending litigation.
Castro’s suit makes a number of other allegations against Smith-Dean, including that she took part in anti-LGBTQ behavior at an off-site work party and is “hostile toward ethnic minorities.”
“She would be very displeased when Spanish was spoken in the workplace especially by individuals who were ‘beneath’ her (i.e. janitorial staff),” according to the suit.
Two separate lawsuits filed June 1 claim that Smith-Dean targeted two employees, one of whom was transferred from the budget department to purchasing last year after filing federal complaints related to Smith-Dean’s treatment of her.
That employee, Alexandria Millan, resigned from the county last month.
“I never thought that I would be stepping into a soul-crushing and demeaning environment that thrives on causing harm to others. I had never seen this behavior in previous workplaces. The extent to which I have been subject to bullying, harassment, and retaliation is unconscionable. Indeed, it got to the level in which I requested the assistance of the US. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Instead of dismissing my case, the EEOC granted me the ‘right to sue,’” Millan wrote in a statement included in her 38-page lawsuit.
The other employee, Nancy McClure-Soto, retired from her administrative coordinator position last summer, months after being placed on administrative leave by the county.
McClure-Soto, according to the suit, had accused Smith-Dean of harassment and bullying as far back as 2018 in a letter to County Manager David Smith.
“In that letter she expressed the toxic work environment created by the Assistant County Manager, Tina Dean-Smith, who was directly under his chain of supervision. It is plaintiff’s belief that the letter was directly shared with the Assistant County Manager as Mrs. Smith-Dean then began an overt campaign to attack and retaliate against the plaintiff,” her 54-page suit states.
In February 2020, McClure-Soto was placed on leave after a list of coworkers accused her in written statements of taking photos or videos of them, intimidating them at work and disrupting their work environment.
Surveillance video released by the county last summer appeared to show McClure-Soto taking photos or recording video as co-workers walked off of an elevator inside the Paul Elizondo Tower. Multiple coworkers said the actions made them feel upset and uncomfortable, records show.
McClure-Soto, however, said she had taken photos of the elevator and reception areas for years as part of her job duties, documenting displays and other items that needed to be cleaned or organized.
Several of the coworker complaints were sent less than an hour apart, according to records provided by the county.
Four of the statements were sent to Smith-Dean before being forwarded on by her, records show.
“The fact that these were all submitted at the same time and addressed to one Tina Smith-Dean, clearly demonstrates defendant’s conspiracy and hostility towards plaintiff,” McClure-Soto’s lawsuit states.
Records show McClure-Soto was issued a right to sue notice by the EEOC in early April.