NYCHA’s former elevator chief sues agency over wrongful termination

Ivo Nikolic was fired in March following anonymous allegations
May 21, 2019 09:30AM

Ivo Nikolic 

Ivo Nikolic

The former head of the New York City Housing Authority’s elevator division is now suing the agency over his firing.

Ivo Nikolic, who was suspended in February and fired in March following an anonymous email alleging sexist, racist and anti-semitic behavior, says the agency hasn’t given him a specific reason for his termination, the New York Post reported.

“NYCHA is always looking for a scapegoat,” Nikolic’s lawyer Marcel Florestal said. “Now they are under a federal monitor. What they are trying to show is that they are turning over a new leaf and cleaning house.”

An internal investigation by NYCHA’s Department of Equal Opportunity found “no probable cause” to support the allegations against Nikolic, but did find “multiple credible reports of non-collegial management and interpersonal conflicts,” according to a letter sent to Nikolic on March 8. He was fired five days later.

The firing has caused “irreparable harm” to Nikolic’s “reputation and marketability for a comparable position from henceforth,” the lawsuit states. Nikolic drew a $148,000 salary in his role as elevator chief.

“We believe Mr. Nikolic’s claims are meritless, but he has every right to contest his termination,” NYCHA spokesman Chester Soria told the Post, using identical wording from a statement made to The Real Deal last month.

The lawsuit, which names two NYCHA executives in addition to the agency itself, seeks to have Nikolic reinstated with back pay, and points to his record of improving safety for the agencies elevators.

“Against all odds, Petitioner managed to turn the elevators department around by, inter alia, initiating ongoing monthly elevator safety meetings with the unions, meetings with the NYCHA Safety Department to raise safety awareness, and ultimately reducing the number of injuries and elevator accidents to the lowest numbers the department had ever seen,” the lawsuit states.

A February report from TRD found that safety incidents in NYCHA elevators happened at five times the rate of other elevators in the city. [NYP] — Kevin Sun