Asbury Park Press (Asbury Park, NJ)
December 11, 2003
Author: KATHY MATHESON/STAFF WRITER; STAFF
ASBURY PARK - A Housing Authority employee is suing the agency and its recently fired executive director, claiming she was sexually harassed and later demoted for reporting it.
The employee, Nancy Goldie of Tinton Falls, claims in a lawsuit filed in state Superior Court that Harold Phipps, authority executive director from January 2002 until last week, touched her inappropriately several times, left a note at her home with his phone number on it, and asked her to fax his Viagra prescription.
Goldie is seeking unspecified damages and court costs.
Phipps had not yet seen the lawsuit but said yesterday that "there's absolutely no truth in her allegations."
"It's a bogus suit from start to finish," he said. "It was all lies ... it's all nonsense."
Mark Tabakin, an attorney for the authority, said he is familiar with the accusations but also had not yet read the lawsuit. He said he would vigorously defend the agency.
"We don't believe that the authority has any culpability at all," he said.
Housing Authority Chairman Rudolph Pierre could not be reached for comment.
Goldie began working for the housing authority in March 1987. Shortly after Phipps was hired two years ago, he began "invading (her) personal space," according to the suit.
Goldie claims he kissed and hugged her without her consent, asked her out to lunch and generally created a "hostile and intimidating work environment."
When she brought the matter to the attention of authority commissioners in the spring of 2002, the suit says, Phipps violated the agency's confidentiality policy by publicly identifying Goldie as having lodged a complaint against him.
Goldie was placed on administrative leave for several months pending an investigation of her complaint, which the commissioners did not sustain, according to a letter sent by Tabakin to Phipps in November 2002.
However, Phipps was reprimanded in the letter for his public disclosure of Goldie's complaint, and he was forced to forfeit three vacation, personal or sick days, and was required to attend sensitivity training.
Goldie was allowed to return to work in January 2003, but the suit says she was demoted and transferred to a substandard work space.
Phipps was fired Dec. 4 by a majority vote of the authority commissioners in what was described as a clash over his management style.
That the suit was filed the following day was a "total coincidence," said Goldie's attorney, Lynda Lee of Spring Lake.
Kathy Matheson: (732) 643-4230 or firstname.lastname@example.org