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NYCHA employee cleared of orgies on the job wins reinstatement

Posted: 3:57 PM, Aug 19, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-19 15:57:32-04

NEW YORK — A New York City Housing Authority supervisor who was implicated last summer in connection with alleged on-the-job drinking and sex parties has won an appeal to be reinstated in her NYCHA job.

The city Department of Investigations concluded there were no orgies, but that there was drinking on the job. It said supervisor Brianne Pawson and a colleague made threats against other employees. Pawson was suspended. At the time, Pawson’s father was a top NYCHA executive.

Pawson had a hearing before a NYCHA trial officer. In March, Trial Officer Toby Golick rejected most of the allegations. She found, for example, that Pawson had an ATM receipt showing she could not have been at a boozy party at the time alleged.

Only minor charges were sustained: that Pawson had been out of uniform and was smoking on NYCHA grounds where smoking is not permitted. But Golick found “extremely mitigating” circumstances in that NYCHA had never given Pawson a uniform. The hearing officer also urged Pawson to get help to quit smoking. The bottom line: the hearing officer recommended only a reprimand, the lowest form of punishment.

NYCHA, not bound to adhere to the recommendation, ignored it and fired Pawson. Her union provided her with an attorney to contest the dismissal.

Pawson had a Civil Service Commission hearing. Earlier this month, the CSC decision found she had committed some of the acts of which she was accused. But, according to her attorney, Hugo G. Ortega, the Civil Service Commission decision said her penalty should be only a 60-day suspension. She’s already been out of her NYCHA job longer than that. It’s not clear when Pawson will go back to work but she will receive lost wages minus 60 days of pay.

Pawson will be reinstated to the position to which she was demoted, a grounds caretaker. Previously, she’d been a supervisor. It’s possible she could fight for reinstatement to her supervisory status.

“The original judge’s decision of reprimand was proper,” Oretega said. “NYCHA didn’t want to lose face. [But] justice at the end was served.”

PIX11 asked Ortega to provide a copy of the Civil Service Commission decision so we could see it for ourselves. He said he’d ask his client for permission to do that. Later he apparently made the decision on his own, emailing us, “After further consideration, I will not be emailing you the CSC decision.”

The Civil Service Commission also did not give us the decision after an employee first said it would and despite a notice hanging in its office stating in big bold lettering, “You have a right to see public records.”

PIX11 has filed a Freedom of Information Law request to get the decision.

PIX11 asked NYCHA for its position on Pawson’s reinstatement. It sent an email saying, “While NYCHA does not agree with the Civil Service Commission’s ruling to reinstate Ms. Pawson to service, the Authority respects the appeals process and will comply with the terms of this decision.”