Schenectady County

Ex-Senior Center staffer files claim against Rotterdam

Fired Rotterdam Senior Center project coordinator Diane Marco said the town stiffed her on her last

Fired Rotterdam Senior Center project coordinator Diane Marco said the town stiffed her on her last paycheck, even though she worked her regular 35 hours over a two-week period.

Marco has filed a small claims case against the town, demanding that it pay her the $517 that was withheld for her last week of work. She claims Town Supervisor Frank Del Gallo even signed off on her time sheet from her last week of work, but later only paid her for 3.5 hours of work, or roughly 14 hours less than she submitted.

“How he got three and a half hours is beyond me,” she said Monday.

Marco said she received notice from the town that she wasn’t approved for overtime hours. Though acknowledging that she worked different hours than normal in her final days on the job, she said she never submitted for any overtime pay.

Marco’s claim recently appeared before Rotterdam Town Justice Kevin Mercoglin, who needed to recuse himself and have the case forwarded to a court without a judge on Rotterdam’s payroll. She said the town didn’t even send a representative to the court.

During a brief interview in his office Monday, Del Gallo said Marco wasn’t told to work the time and therefore wouldn’t be paid for it. He doesn’t believe anyone directed her to put in the hours she did before her final day.

“If she worked that time and she wasn’t told to work or asked to work, she wouldn’t get paid for that,” he said. “Unless she was advised to work, why would she work?”

Deputy Supervisor Robert Godlewski then arrived and informed Del Gallo to not discuss the employee matter with The Gazette. He said the issue was related to personnel and not up for public discussion.

“We cannot talk about it,” he said abruptly. “It’s a personnel issue.”

Marco’s final day working for the town was Monday, Feb. 28. Rotterdam’s biweekly pay period ended Friday, March 4.

She claims the work she did between Friday and Monday during her last week working was essential to ensure the senior center programs would continue to operate without her. She said she has records that show she was conducting work during the time she was there and can even produce another town employee who can verify that she was at the senior center for some of the hours she is claiming.

“They can go into the computers and see my reports,” she said,

Del Gallo gave Marco two weeks’ notice that she was being dismissed from the Rotterdam Senior Center in mid-February, less than two months after she was reappointed to the position during the Town Board’s organizational meeting. Del Gallo never publicly gave a reason for the termination, which sparked outrage among some of the town’s elderly.

Del Gallo tried to replace Marco with her predecessor, John DeGeorgio, during a meeting four days before she left the job. But three board members rejected the appointment and the senior center has continued without a project coordinator ever since.

Marco, a Democrat, served several terms on the board before bowing out of politics in 2007. Del Gallo’s relationship with the Democrats, who endorsed him in 2009, soured significantly after he took office and even further when the party endorsed former Schenectady County Sheriff Harry Buffardi for town supervisor in the November 2011 election.

But Marco believes her termination had more to do with complaints from a pair of part-time workers at the Brass Rail, a cafeteria located at the senior center. Marco changed several policies that angered the workers, who then complained about it to Del Gallo.

Marco has also requested that Del Gallo grant her a civil service hearing to discuss the reasons of her termination. She said her termination letter stated she could request such a hearing, but Del Gallo hasn’t bothered to schedule one and she believes he’s violating state law.

“Everything [he does] is illegal, but he gets away with it,” she said.

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