GHA workers reinstated, but lawsuit will go on

GLOVERSVILLE — The attorney representing 10 Gloversville Housing Authority employees suing the entity for $10 million confirmed Wednesday that all of the suspended GHA employees have returned to work, but the lawsuit will continue.

Tina Sena, Linda Lizio, Janet Luck, and maintenance worker Joe Battaglia were suspended after being among the nine GHA employees who signed a letter of complaint Dec. 29 alleging GHA Executive Director Tim Mattice had ordered authority employees to work for the nonprofit Gloversville Housing and Neighborhood Improvement Corp. and to do housing improvements at former Authority Board Chairman Anthony Ferraro’s home; the suit also alleges Mattice created a hostile work environment for authority employees.

Battaglia was the first to return, Sena, Lizio and Luck, all office employees, are now also back at work.

Albany attorney Elmer R. Keach III is representing the workers in the lawsuit. He said Sena, Lizio, Luck and Battaglia returning to work will limit their loss of earnings, but the basis for the lawsuit, which includes violation of state and federal whistleblower protections, continues.

“When you oversee a program that uses federal funds, as Mr. Mattice does, you aren’t allowed to expend those federal funds in any way you see fit, including for the benefit of the chairman of the board who oversees your employment. You are required to oversee those funds pursuant to federal rules and regulations,” Keach said. “Mr. Mattice, by having employees of the GHA do work on the chairman of the board’s home and use resources from the Gloversville Housing Authority to do that work was violating federal law. He was also violating federal law when he had employees doing work for his nonprofit, including paying some of their bills with federal funds. The employees of the authority complained to the board, as is their right, and Mr. Mattice acknowledges he suspended these individuals, based on the fact that their complaint went public and, the last I checked, that’s a violation of the federal constitution and a range of retaliation and whistleblower statutes.”

Keach said the said the employees returning to work may limit their loss of earnings, but the lawsuit will still help protect their jobs as well stand-up against what they believe is wrongdoing on the part of their supervisor.

Keach said his next step in the federal lawsuit is a 50-h hearing scheduled for later this month.

By Chad Fleck

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