One employee of the Phoenix House for battered women has been fired and a second one has been suspended in a dispute with administrators of the shelter, operated by the Young Women's Christian Assn. of Glendale.
Patricia Jaquez, house coordinator of the shelter for two years, said she was terminated Friday for what her supervisors said was "gross insubordination." A co-worker, Violeta Camtuzano, on Monday was suspended without pay for five days, Jaquez said.
The women said YWCA officials took the action after they disobeyed an order to stop accepting new clients into the shelter's program. Rahla Hall, Glendale YWCA executive director, confirmed the disciplinary action but declined to discuss the reasons.
Hall said employees at the Phoenix House had been asked to curtail their work hours and the scope of their program as part of a drive to reduce expenditures throughout the association's programs. She said the association is about $70,000 short of meeting its annual $1.2-million budget.
Jaquez said she was notified May 9 by Tina Blakely, Phoenix House director, to refer all hot-line calls and women seeking help to other shelters in the Los Angeles area. Despite the orders, Jaquez said, two women, both "severely injured and escorted to the shelter" after separate incidences of violence, were admitted to the home.
Her Requests Ignored
She said program administrators repeatedly have ignored her requests to explain the cutbacks in the program. Jaquez said funds for the shelter are provided, in part, by county and federal grants, which specify the type of services that are to be provided. She charged that the cutbacks violate conditions of the grants.
A Los Angeles County community services official said his department is investigating the charges and has scheduled meetings with YWCA administrators and employees. Phoenix House workers said they also have filed complaints with the YWCA.
The disciplinary action was taken after Phoenix House workers publicly complained about cutbacks to newspaper reporters. Hall said the news reports had nothing to do with Jaquez's firing.
Camtuzano said she admitted the two women to the shelter as an emergency move after she was unable to reach officials of the Y to obtain their permission. Jaquez said she was not at the shelter at the time the action was taken but that she had discussed with co-workers the order to turn victims away.
Hall argued that other shelters are available in the area. "Nobody is left high and dry," she said.