Robert “Steve” Craig, president and CEO of CareerSource Palm Beach County since 2011, has retired.
The head of the county’s job creation nonprofit has retired as a result of harassment allegations and investigations.
Robert “Steve” Craig, president and CEO of CareerSource Palm Beach County since 2011, submitted his resignation and notice to retire Thursday in an email to County Mayor Dave Kerner. Craig earned a base salary of $223,074 during the fiscal year ending in June 2018.
David Baker, legal counsel for nonprofit, said the resignation was because of the investigations.
“The potential termination was disclosed and the opportunity to resign was given by the mayor,” Baker said.
And on Friday, one of the women who filed a complaint against the 71-year-old was named interim president and CEO of the organization.
Julia Dattolo, the nonprofit’s vice president of Business Services, was nominated to the post by the Palm Beach Workforce Development Consortium and will be paid an annual salary of $164,340.
“We just want to get back to business and not have this distraction,” Dattolo said.
Dattolo wrote in her Aug. 1 complaint that she had been “a victim of harassment and bullying furthermore subjected to a hostile work environment” because of Craig, alleging that he didn’t truthfully portray her efforts in evaluations and that she, without reason, was replaced as Equal Employment Opportunity officer. She also alluded to “unethical behaviors unbecoming to a CEO.”
The investigation, conducted for the nonprofit by West Palm Beach-based labor and employment law attorney Bari Goldstein, found that Craig’s actions had not risen to the level of illegal harassment, nor were Dattolo’s pay, benefits or level within the organization impacted.
“Petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not rise to the level of illegality,” the Dec. 10 investigative report said.
Yet the report conceded that “the allegations and results of this investigation reflect, at times, a lack of judgment by Craig.” In particular, the report cited an instance where Craig told his colleagues “’it didn’t work’ with respect to his sexual ability,” a comment the report added “was not disputed by Craig.”
Dattolo herself was called out in the same investigative report related to a relationship Craig had with a lower-level employee. The report said Dattolo’s spreading of rumors about an alleged affair between Craig and the employee is against the nonprofit’s policy.
On Friday, Dattolo rejected the characterization of her assertions as “rumors,” and said she had not been disciplined.
Dattolo had admitted to the attorney investigating the matter, Goldstein, that she asked employees in her department to keep a log of how often Craig would go into the employee’s office, and then gave orders to destroy the log. The report said Dattolo “acknowledged that this was not a good idea and has expressed contrition for these actions,” the report said.
West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James, noting Dattolo’s behavior described in the report, said he hoped she would “heed the advice of the investigative report.”
“There were a couple of things that happened in her performance that were criticized in the report,” added CareerSource attorney David Baker on Friday. “I’m sure that won’t happen again. She’s a very, very high-performing employee.”
Concerns about the relationship between Craig and the employee weren’t unwarranted, the report said. Both the employee and Craig each signed affidavits in May confirming that their relationship was consensual. Craig and his wife had filed for divorce in April, according to court records.
But the employee’s salary increased nearly $45,000 in two years, more than doubling her salary. Craig was one of four people to sign off on the wage jumps based on promotion or merit.
“There is ample support for the fact that Craig may have favored [the employee] and/or made decisions in her best interest, possibly to the detriment of others in the agency,” the report said. The report suggested that Craig rely on the organization’s vice presidents or human resources to make those decisions.
The second complaint was filed by an employee who reports directly to Dattolo, two days after Craig hosted a work event at his home on July 31.
The employee alleged she and Craig were alone in his kitchen when he placed his hand on her lower back, slurring his words and asked if she wanted another drink. She described two other instances when Craig either placed his hand on her back or touched her hand.
There was no evidence to say Craig had inappropriately touched the employee and Craig denied the accusations, according to the report.
But several former and current employees said that Craig often drank at work events or during lunch with co-workers, ordering too many drinks and “even putting his head down or falling asleep at the table at two different events,” according to the report. The witnesses said Craig had a habit of “getting too close to others and not respecting the personal space of those around him.”
The results of the two investigations were submitted to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s Office of Inspector General.
“I have full faith and confidence in its current leadership,” Kerner said Friday about CareerSource. “I’m excited for this next chapter, and I hope we all learn something walking away from this.”
Palm Beach Post staff writer Jeff Ostrowski contributed to this report.