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Housing office lawsuit still unresolved

Aspen Times Staff Report

City Manager Steve Barwick was deposed this week as attorneys prepare their cases in a lawsuit filed by a former Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority employee who claims she was wrongfully fired last year.

Victoria Giannola, former assistant director of the Housing Authority from July 2000 to June 2003, filed the wrongful termination suit in U.S. District Court in Denver shortly after she lost her job. It names the authority and Barwick as defendants.

The case has been assigned to a magistrate judge in Denver. Monday’s testimony by Barwick was part of the discovery process, in which attorneys assess their opponents’ case. The deposition took place in Glenwood Springs.

If the suit goes to a trial, it is expected to take place in the fall, said City Attorney John Worcester.

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Giannola lost her job when her post was eliminated as part of a reorganization of the housing office. She is seeking damages in an amount to be determined at trial and reinstatement for “the remaining portion of her contract” or compensation for that period of the contract.

She contends a job description she received when she was hired outlined the job as a five-year position and that the description constitutes a contract.

Another former Housing Authority employee, Jay Leavitt, also sued the authority and Barwick after losing his job as director of development and construction with the housing office. His post was also eliminated with the restructuring of the housing office.

The case was settled with a $75,000 payment to Leavitt, according to Worcester. The city’s insurance paid $50,000, and the Housing Authority’s insurance paid $25,000.


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