By Jane Smith
Fired manager George Gretsas has sued the city of Delray Beach, claiming wrongful termination, and is seeking 20 weeks’ severance pay.
Gretsas’ claim also asks for his benefits of car allowance, cellphone allowance and health insurance premiums, about $145,000 in all.
In addition, he wants the city to pay for his attorney’s fees. Gretsas hired G. Ware Cornell Jr., based in Weston, to represent him in the Dec. 30 lawsuit.
Gretsas could not be reached for comment, including a request for explanation as to why he waited more than a year to sue the city. Gretsas was fired in November 2020.
His attorney responded via a Jan. 24 email to The Coastal Star: “It is not my firm’s policy to discuss pending litigation with the press. Consequently, neither George nor I will be responding to your inquiry.”
The city’s outside counsel, Michael Gore of the Jones Foster law firm in West Palm Beach, sought 20 extra days to respond by Feb. 14. The judge agreed on Jan. 21.
Gretsas, who previously was Homestead city manager, started in Delray Beach on Jan. 6, 2020. Less than six months later, he was suspended with pay on June 24, based on accusations of bullying and creating a hostile workplace atmosphere, especially for women.
He chose to fight the charges but was faced with new violations uncovered by the city’s internal auditor, Julia Davidyan. She found he violated the city charter by improper spending and hiring.
Gretsas was fired five months later, on Nov. 20, 2020. He did not attend that hearing because he was in Montana, awaiting the birth of a child.
In the lawsuit, Gretsas claims he was fired for his “refusal to give cover to the mayor and commissioners” on the reclaimed water controversy. The highly treated wastewater became an issue just before Gretsas started.
His lawsuit also mentions allegations of corrupt activities “such as awarding a $50 million contract to a crony of a commissioner who was still on felony probation.” The lawsuit does not name the contract, the commissioner or the contractor.
In December 2021, the city won a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by former manager Mark Lauzier, who was fired in March 2019.