- Faith & Family
With the opening of the new Miami Marlins Ballpark just months away, a job fair held by the organization last week brought out thousands of hopeful jobseekers. But there was also plenty of controversy after many looking for jobs saw postings on the ball club’s website that they say were discriminatory.
“I only speak English and I don’t know what else I can do,” said Bradley Washington, a 33-year-old job seeker. “On the site it clearly said they are looking for people that speak Spanish in addition to English so I guess they don’t want me.”
Juan C. Martinez, Marlins director of multicultural marketing, said seeking bilingual job candidates was a priority for the team because of its Spanish-speaking base.
“Of the hundreds of potential job opportunities available at the new ballpark through the Marlins, CSC event management and other ball park positions, only three positions require that the candidate be bilingual,” said Derek Jackson, 36, Vice-President and General Counsel, Miami Marlins. “The Marlins’ commitment to the Black community is the same as it is to every ethnic group represented in South Florida. The Marlins want every community to be represented at the new ballpark.”
The nearly-completed stadium is located in Little Havana on the site that previously was home to the Orange Bowl. But close by is the historic community of Overtown whose Black unemployment rate hovers at nearly 20 percent. Many of those residents stood in line hoping to secure a job with at the Marlins Ballpark.
“This is a sensitive issue for many Black job seekers,” said Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, 69, who represents the 17th District of Florida.
Both Overtown and Little Havana are part of her district.
“I personally believe that candidates should be evaluated based on their qualifications for getting the job done rather than their linguistic abilities.”
Commissioners sound off
As a result of the Marlins’ perceived preference for bilingual employees, several Miami-Dade County commissioners’ officers were flooded with complaints.
“It [the posting on the website] really caused a lot of phone calls to come to my office,” said Barbara Jordan, 68, Miami-Dade county commissioner, District 1. “If you speak English only or speak English and Creole it appears as if you are not welcome to apply. There are a lot of public dollars that are tied into that stadium. I got a visit from Marlins’ representatives that let me know that the listings on their website were done in error. They told me it was not their intent to limit their applicants based on language.”
Jordan says that she plans to follow up with the Marlins to monitor whether Blacks were fairly treated in their job search efforts.
“This is insulting frankly because there is so much public information that tied into this stadium,” said Jean Monestine, 48, Miami-Dade county commissioner, District 2. “There shouldn’t be any bias in this. I hope this was just a mistake. This is the public community whether you were for it or against it but it is still the public’s money.”
By Randy Grice