Pittsburgh Diocese Sued For Sexual Discrimination

Author: Sophia Apessos
Date Published: 01/09/2004
Publication: The National Herald

NEW YORK. – Two former employees of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Pittsburgh are suing the diocese in federal court due to the sexual harassment they allege they suffered under their supervisor, Reverend Archdeacon Ryan Gzikowski, who is the assistant to Metropolitan Maximos.

Rev. Gzikowski, the two former female employees allege, created an environment that was degrading to women.

In a complaint filed in federal court last month, Patricia Patsakis, 53, of Lower Burrell, Pennsylvania, and Angela Sklavos, 33, of Forest Hills, Pennsylvania, were fired on October 8, 2002 after complaining to Metropolitan Maximos about Rev. Gzikowski.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Pittsburgh Archdiocese were both named as defendants in the case.

Ms. Patsakis worked as a coordinator for the church’s youth camp and Ms. Sklavos worked as an executive secretary of diocesan communications. Ms. Patsakis was employed at the Pittsburgh diocese since December 1 of 2001 and Ms. Sklavos since August 1 of 2001.

The attorney for the two women, Samuel Cordes, said the complaints against Rev. Gzikowski were not based on sexual misconduct, but rather, Rev. Gzikowski’s repeated comments about how he disliked working with women, and how the diocese was no place for women.

“At the advice of our attorney, we wish not to comment at this time,” Rev. Gzikowski told the Herald, on behalf of himself and the Metropolitan.

Before being hired as a full-time Assistant to the Metropolitan, Rev. Gzikowski worked in the Youth Office and was supervised by the female Youth Director for several years while home on breaks from the Seminary.

The Metropolis staff currently employs 3 full-time women, and one part-time woman, a Religious Education Director, a Youth Director, a Communications Assistant and an Administrative Assistant.

The lawsuit seeks back wages, benefits, and punitive damages. Before they were fired, explained Mr. Cordes, the women received no complaints for job performance.

If it’s hard to believe that an organization such as a church can react to the poor treatment of their employees with such little regard, Mr. Cordes said it is actually not as uncommon as it seems it should be. “A lot of times, you confuse the mission of the organization with how they’re managed,” said Mr. Cordes.

“What we’ve seen with many religious institutions is there’s a tendency to cover things up,” said Mr. Cordes.

After Ms. Sklavos and Ms. Patsakis complained to the Metropolitan about his assistant, Rev. Gzikowski, the two women were expressly placed under the supervision of Rev. Gzikowski, whose poor treatment of them worsened before they were fired shortly thereafter, in October of 2001, according to the complaint.

Rev. Gzikowski became Ms. Patsakis’ direct supervisor on September 10, at which time she was demoted to a lower-level administrative position.

Because this occurred after the two women complained, Mr. Cordes said this is clearly a case of retaliation on the part of the diocese.

The defendants, the Archdiocese of America and the Pittsburgh Diocese, have 60 days from the day the complaint was filed (in December) to respond