Harrison TownshipJune 28, 2012
Labor attorney says treasurer broke no HIPAA laws, advises investigation
By Julie Snyder
C & G Staff Writer
HARRISON TOWNSHIP — Harrison Township’s labor attorney says there is no proof that Treasurer Darrin York violated any HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) laws after allegedly revealing personal medical information about a former township employee.
And even after dissecting Doreen Glappa’s written complaint against York, Dan Villaire, the township’s labor attorney for AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) Local 1103, was unable to identify specific examples of York acting in a harassing or discriminatory manner.
“(Glappa) failed to identify the harassment or discrimination (as claimed),” his final analysis read.
He nonetheless advised township officials investigate the accusations. In a 6-1 vote on June 25, the Harrison Township Board of Trustees directed Villaire’s firm, Keller Thoma, to lead that investigation at the expense of the township.
Glappa, who had been an administrative assistant with the township’s Water and Sewer Department since 1998, accuses York of looking at her private personnel file and using personal medical information against her. York has denied ever seeing Glappa’s personal medical file and said he does not have access to it.
Glappa is running against York for election as township treasurer.
She said York allegedly used a threatening tone with another employee when referring to Glappa’s run for township treasurer. In a letter written and submitted by Michelle Emson, during a conversation that took place May 17, York allegedly said that politics are dirty, that “(Glappa) doesn’t know what she’s in for,” and that he would be watching Glappa’s home or have someone watch her home in the weeks leading up to the election.
York has denied the accusations, saying his comments were misunderstood. He calls the whole matter a “witch hunt” that “stinks of politics” and asked the board to dismiss the complaint.
“You have a complaint, there is no violation, you move on,” he said, adding that the labor attorney’s final determination has him unsure what he’s supposed to be defending himself against. “I don’t know what I’m defending at this point.”
Township Supervisor Kenneth Verkest said it’s not that easy.
“If the township did not investigate, it would be susceptible to a lawsuit in the future,” he said. “It’s in our best interest to investigate.”
Trustee David Bratto said during the recent regular meeting that any business would investigate claims as serious as harassment and discrimination, and responded to some audience members’ flippant remarks about the issue.
“Some are acting like this is a joke. This is not a joke,” he said. “We can’t not do anything about this. We can’t ignore it.”
York said a complaint should have been filed against Glappa, who allegedly used township time and resources for campaign purposes just before she was terminated from her job.
“From now on, when the complaints come in, you better investigate all of them,” he said.
Glappa lost her job with the township in early June for gross negligence and fraud.
Verkest said that between Jan. 1 and May 11, Glappa had issued undocumented or unauthorized credits to some overcharged water customers whose sump pumps failed. He said that five of nine refunds given during that timeframe were not given properly and cost the township upwards of $7,000.
Glappa denied intentionally making the errors; rather, she said, it was a series of misunderstandings during a time of department policy and leadership changes.
After the June 11 meeting, Glappa, a resident of the township for 25 years, said she plans to file a grievance in the hopes of getting her job back. She also said she plans to stay in the race for treasurer.
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