2 sue Greek Orthodox diocese over firings

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Date Published: 12/05/2003
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Two former employees of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Pittsburgh sued the church and its national office yesterday, saying they were fired after complaining about harassment by a church official at the diocese’s Shadyside headquarters.

Patricia A. Patsakis, a former coordinator, and Angela Sklavos, a former executive secretary, said in a complaint in federal court that they were subjected to a hostile work environment by the Rev. Ryan Gzikowski, assistant to Metropolitan Maximos, bishop of the diocese in Pittsburgh.

Patsakis, 53, of Lower Burrell, and Sklavos, 33, of Forest Hills, said the bishop fired them Oct. 8, 2002, after they had repeatedly complained about Gzikowski.

Their lawyer, Samuel Cordes, said the complaint does not allege any sexual misconduct by Gzikowski, but rather that he made office life difficult by making comments indicating he didn’t like working with women.

Patsakis and Sklavos both filed complaints in June with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Pittsburgh, which gave them the go-ahead in September to file suit in U.S. District Court. Federal employment discrimination suits must first be filed with the EEOC before they go to court.

Patsakis said she had worked at the diocese since December 2001 and last held the position of coordinator for a church camp project called Mount Tabor.

Sklavos had been employed since Aug. 1, 2001, and last held the position of executive secretary for communications.

Neither woman could be reached yesterday, but Cordes said they both began complaining to the bishop about Gzikowski in the summer of 2002.

On Sept. 10 of that year, Gzikowski became Patsakis’ immediate supervisor. On that day, according to the suit, she was demoted to a lower-level administrative position.

On Oct. 8, the bishop fired her and Sklavos in retaliation for their complaints, according to the suit.

Both women are seeking reinstatement with back pay and damages.

A secretary at diocese headquarters on Ellsworth Avenue referred questions to Gzikowski, who could not be reached.
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Torsten Ove can be reached at tove@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620.