The inspector general’s office for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority discovered the room in August 2019 after receiving an anonymous tip that workers were going there to “hang out and get drunk and party,” the agency watchdog said Thursday. The investigation into the room took a year due, in part, to work disruptions during the coronavirus pandemic, a spokeswoman said.
“Many a New Yorker has fantasized about kicking back with a cold beer in a prime piece of Manhattan real estate, especially one this close to good transportation,” MTA Inspector General Carolyn Pokorny said. “But few would have the chutzpah to commandeer a secret room beneath Grand Central Terminal and make it their very own man cave, sustained with MTA resources and maintained at our riders’ expense.”
The three unnamed employees — all maintenance workers for Metro-North Railroad — have been suspended without pay pending a disciplinary inquiry, the IG’s office said. Investigators said they found the TV’s streaming device connected to the hot spot for one worker’s cellphone, the streaming device registered to a second man, and a receipt in the third one’s name.
All three have said they didn’t know about the room, according to the report.
The men were either assigned to the midnight-to-8 a.m. shift or worked overtime during the overnight hours, the IG’s office said. In addition to the inflatable mattress, the room had a pullout cot and a bag containing sheets and a comforter.
The “man cave” was in a locked area within a storage room for locksmith supplies, investigators said. Its door had a handwritten sign that said “foreman’s office.” Grand Central Terminal managers said they didn’t know about the storage area or the “unauthorized break room” within it, investigators said.
Metro-North President Catherine Rinaldi said the employees “are being disciplined in accordance with their collective bargaining agreements.” Metro-North is an MTA agency.
“The behavior described in the IG’s report is outrageously inappropriate and is not consistent with Metro-North’s values and the commitment that we have to providing safe, reliable and cost-efficient service to our customers,” Rinaldi said in a statement.