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Civil Service Commission finds NYCHA employee made sexual comment, allowed alcohol at the workplace

Posted at 6:58 PM, Aug 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-28 10:17:37-04

PIX11 has obtained the decision of the City Civil Service Commission reinstating a former New York City Housing Authority supervisor to her last position as a caretaker at the NYCHA complex in Throggs Neck. The employee, Brianne Pawson, was suspended and then fired for alleged offenses including making an inappropriate sexual comment and organizing a birthday party at which beer was consumed by staffers.

PIX11 reported on Aug. 19 that the CSC had ordered her reinstated subject to a loss of 60 days’ pay for a 60-day suspension. At the time, PIX11 asked Pawson’s union-provided attorney, Hugo G. Ortega for a copy of the decision. He refused. PIX11 obtained the decision from the Civil Service Commission under New York’s Freedom of Information Law.

The CSC determined that there was enough evidence to sustain the allegation that Pawson made a sexual comment to one co-worker about another co-worker. That allegation had been rejected by a NYCHA trial office. However, the CSC noted that while the comment was “totally inappropriate,” there was no indication that it was intended to “provoke hostilities.” Nothing happened as a result and no party to the conversation took the comments seriously.

Pawson testified at the CSC hearing in June that she did not authorize anyone to drink alcohol at the birthday party and did not see anyone drinking beer. But the CSC said “there is evidence in the record to sustain” the charge. It pointed out that Pawson “was issued a counseling memo in the past about possessing alcohol on NYCHA property with her subordinates.”

The CSC overturned the NYCHA trial finding that Pawson was partly responsible for being out of uniform even though NYCHA never issued her a uniform. There is no dispute that she’d been smoking on building grounds.

In the end, the CSC determined Pawson did not deserve to be fired for her behavior. It gave her the 60-day unpaid suspension instead. It’s not clear when Pawson will go back to work.