Fulton County

Housing authority employee files First Amendment claim

Suspended manager cites retaliation
Sheri McCloskey.
Sheri McCloskey.

GLOVERSVILLE — The tenant relations manager at the Gloversville Housing Authority, who said she was disciplined last summer for speaking out on local politics, has filed a claim against the authority seeking up to $300,000 in damages.

Sheri McCloskey of Gloversville contends in a notice of claim filed with the authority earlier this month that she was suspended from her job during a Housing Authority board meeting on July 20 for exercising her free speech rights after she posted a statement online that was critical of Gloversville Mayor Dayton King in May.

The Housing Authority leadership had been in turmoil for months prior to the July 20 meeting, at which then-executive director Timothy Mattice was also placed on administrative leave. Retired GHA executive director David Towne was named interim director. Towne continues to serve in that role. Mattice subsequently reached a financial settlement with the Housing Authority.

The vote to suspend McCloskey from her duties was 4-3. Her claim alleges that the four Housing Authority board members who voted to suspend her “retaliated against claimant by taking steps to discipline and suspend claimant after claimant expressed her First Amendment opinions on the actions of the Gloversville mayor and on conflicts of interest for possible GHA board members.”

As part of the same notice, McCloskey charges that a GHA maintenance worker threatened to bring a gun to work and that he also swerved his vehicle toward her on one occasion.

While McCloskey was suspended, her employment was not terminated, and GHA board members said she continued to be paid. Her salary is listed in the public www.seethroughNY.org database as $49,992.

In the notice of claim filed by Latham attorney Kevin A. Luibrand, however, it is alleged that McCloskey “has lost income estimated to be in excess of $100,000,” and suffered $200,000 in damages for embarassment, humiliation and mental stress.

Luibrand was unavailable for comment on why McCloskey seeks compensation for lost income if she has been paid during the suspension. Efforts to reach McCloskey were unsuccessful.

Towne, on Tuesday, referred a request for comment to the Gloversville Housing Authority’s legal counsel, Benjamin McGuire of Gloversville.

McGuire said McCloskey continues to be an employee of the Housing Authority, but would not comment further, citing the pending litigation.

A notice of claim against a government agency is not a lawsuit, but preserves the claimant’s right to bring a lawsuit in the future.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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