SAN ANTONIO – Current and former employees, along with volunteers and clients of Guide Dogs of Texas Inc. protested outside of the agency’s office Friday, arguing that the work environment has not been a good one.
“So, since I started working here, we’ve, I’ve noticed that our female staff has been experiencing some harassment. Working conditions haven’t been quite in line with the values that our company holds,” said Casey Cassidy, an employee with GDTX.
The man at the center of those complaints is the new CEO, Billy Rader.
Protesters said the board has taken no action on their claims and suggested the CEO has even retaliated against a whistleblower.
“I’m not going to get into allegations, and I know there’s EOC going towards the people in there. But basically, it really means that three people -- three people -- that have closed this down have put them and their ego above the mission statement of Guide Dogs of Texas. They’ve shut it down,” said Ernest Landry, a former employee.
One thing the Guide Dogs of Texas has done is get a temporary restraining order against three current employees.
In the petition filed on Wednesday, the organization acknowledged these employees have voiced their concerns, but that it has brought it outside council to address and investigate claims.
The petition goes on to say that these three current employees have gone so far as to lock the CEO out of the payroll system and remove him as an administrator in other financial software.
The agency is accusing these employees of defamation and theft.
Meanwhile, those protesting said since they announced Friday’s rally, current employees have been locked out of servers, emails and funds donated to the nonprofit.
“So, all the dogs, the care for the dogs is falling under the employees. And we’ve received no word whatsoever from anybody higher up in the company,” said Cassidy.
The concern of the clients is what the future holds for Guide Dogs of Texas.
“It’s also not just me, as everybody in San Antonio and in Texas that benefits from Guide Dogs of Texas, because we’re not just for San Antonio, we’re for all of Texas. And it’s not just my safety. It’s everybody who is visually impaired or legally blind, all their safety as well,” said Kayla Reimagel, a client of GDTX.
We reached out to the CEO and his team, who were only able to provide a statement that said the organization remains committed to serving all visually impaired Texans and to date, investigations have not revealed evidence of wrongdoings.
You can read the CEO’s full statement below:
“To our many followers, supporters and interested persons:
The Guide Dogs of Texas Board of Directors remains committed to serving all visually impaired Texans who benefit from the use of our guide dogs. Recently, allegations of wrongdoing have been made against the CEO and our Board of Directors. Because we take these allegations of wrongdoing seriously, we have hired legal experts to independently and objectively interview and investigate these claims. Additionally, we also brought in a Human Resources consultant to assist with personnel matters.
To date, this investigation has not revealed any evidence of wrongdoing. Thus far, every allegation of fraud, harassment, conflict of interest, and financial mismanagement leveled against the CEO and this Board have been shown to either be unsubstantiated or outright false. We continue to work with the CEO and staff to fully understand the points of view of all those involved. Our goal throughout this investigation has been to support the GDTX staff to maintain a working environment that allows them to carry out our mission.
We believe our CEO has acted with integrity throughout this process. We continue to support him as he collaborates with the board and carries out the normal operations of the organization. We are still open for business and continue to support our mission.
This is a difficult time for our small and beloved organization. Know that our passion is to continue supporting our clients, blind Texans; our numerous volunteers; and continue to raise, train, and love the wonderful dogs who are the heart and soul of our mission.
Thank you all for your patience and support.”