An East Hampton Town employee suspended in October on charges of misconduct and incompetence is calling for her upcoming disciplinary hearing this Friday to be open to the public.
Linda Norris, a Montauk resident and a 17-year town employee who recently worked as the adult day care supervisor in the Human Services Department, hired attorney Thomas Horn of Sag Harbor to represent her in the disciplinary hearing at 10 a.m. at Town Hall. Mr. Horn and Lawrence Kelly, another local attorney, are jointly handling the case.
The East Hampton Town Board unanimously suspended both Ms. Norris and Sheila Carter, a senior bus service supervisor who also worked in Human Services, for a month without pay on charges of misconduct and incompetence. The charges were filed by Diana Patrizio, the director of the town’s Human Services Department. Officials have said the cases are unrelated.
Town Attorney John Jilnicki said Ms. Norris is entitled to have an open disciplinary hearing, if she chooses.
“To be honest with you, this is a complete shock all around,” Ms. Norris said of the charges against her in a phone interview on Monday. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be in this position.”
Mr. Horn has represented local clients like the Surf Lodge and the Sloppy Tuna in ordinance-related cases with East Hampton Town. On Monday, he said the charges filed against Ms. Norris by Ms. Patrizio fail to address specifics, such as the “who, what, when, where, why and how.”
“From what I can tell, these charges are unfair—they’re vague, and it’s very difficult to defend them because they’re so vague,” Mr. Horn said. “We have tried to anticipate anything and everything they can say.”
The case will be heard by a hearing officer, who will settle on a recommendation to the Town Board, which has final say and will vote to either accept or reject the hearing officer’s decision. Attorney Eileen A. Powers has been appointed as hearing officer in the matters involving both employees.
Mr. Horn detailed most of the eight charges—five counts of misconduct and three counts of incompetence. Some specific allegations include “threatening of subordinates with the elimination of the adult day care function and their resulting job loss if they were absent or complained to the department head about situations within the Department of Human Services; demeaning and belittling subordinate employees; directing a search of a subordinate’s personal property, a handbag, without authorization; and/or behaving toward your subordinates in a manner that is aggressive, intimidating and humiliating.”
Other charges include failing to implement a new transportation program in January; using town equipment, like computers for personal reasons during work time; inadequate record-keeping; bringing a child to work without authorization; permitting subordinates to work without requiring recertification of their food handler status; and other issues.
Mr. Kelly spoke to the Town Board about Ms. Norris on Tuesday at the board’s work session, but Councilwoman Theresa Quigley stopped him from discussing details, pointing out that the Town Board should not be hearing about the case in light of the pending disciplinary hearing.
Councilman Dominick Stanzione, the liaison to the Human Services Department, declined to comment on the story.