A public housing boss accused of belittling, berating and bullying female subordinates won’t be disciplined, city officials decided a month after Mayor de Blasio fiercely defended him during an “objective” investigation into his behavior.
Instead, NYCHA general manager Vito Mustaciuolo should be told to stop cracking jokes at work and take leadership skills training, the city Law Department said.
The Law Department’s recommendation in a two-page memo followed allegations in a Daily News story that Mustaciuolo created an “abusive behavior and hostile work environment for women.”
Mustaciuolo’s conduct didn’t violate the city’s Equal Employment Opportunity policy, lawyers wrote in the memo provided to the News.
“[T]here is insufficient evidence to establish that Respondent Vito engaged in conduct that rises to the level of sexual harassment or gender based discrimination or race discrimination in violation of the City of New York and NYCHA’s EEO policy,” acting corporation counsel Georgia Pestana and senior counsel Ashley Iodice wrote to housing officials on Oct. 3.
“However, the investigation did reveal some issues arising as a result of Respondent’s management style,” the memo says.
Pestana and Iodice made two recommendations to NYCHA chair Greg Russ and deputy mayor Vicki Been.
“Mr. Mustaciuolo should be counseled not to give any staff nicknames and avoid telling jokes about people’s appearances,” they wrote. “Mr. Mustaciuolo should be offered training or coaching to expand and improve his leadership skills and management techniques.”
The memo didn’t address any of the specific allegations about Mustaciuolo’s behavior.
Russ thanked the Law Department for “resolving” the matter.
“As we move forward to transform the Authority, we are looking at every aspect of how we do business. Our residents deserve nothing less," Russ said in a statement. "All NYCHA staff members work tirelessly to address the significant challenges we face, and GM Mustaciuolo and I are more committed than ever to ensuring a culture of dignity and respect for all of our dedicated public servants.”
A full month before the investigation concluded, de Blasio stood firmly by Mustaciuolo, saying “very, very important work is being done right now to fix NYCHA.”
"It’s very tough work,” the mayor said Sept. 4. “I want to acknowledge how hard Vito has worked to try and change that place and I think with some real success.”
The probe was launched following a Daily News story detailing how Mustaciuolo cultivated a toxic and unprofessional work environment that’s helped drive away high-level staffers, according to current and former NYCHA employees who said he specifically undermines women working for the authority.
Mustaciuolo screams and swears at women staffers without provocation and made several cry after his demeaning outbursts, the current and former NYCHA employees said.
He nicknamed one “sweet pea” and asked about another’s dating life. One employee also said he once suggested tenants living with a horrifying rat infestation at the Claremont Rehab apartments in the Bronx were “dirty" but that he couldn’t say that because he isn’t black.
De Blasio said he didn’t believe Mustaciuolo made the “dirty” remark. The mayor also said he didn’t believe former NYCHA employees’ claims that Mustaciuolo lied to him about how quickly the city could x-ray public housing apartments for lead.