Schenectady County

Former Niskayuna rec director files suit over loss of job

The former town of Niskayuna recreation director who lost her job after her position was eliminated

The former town of Niskayuna recreation director who lost her job after her position was eliminated has now filed suit against the town, claiming the town violated civil service law in demoting and then terminating her.

Kathleen Gansfuss, who worked for the town for more than 20 years, filed the suit last week in state Supreme Court in Schenectady County against the town and each member of the Town Board.

In the suit, she claims that she was twice demoted, then finally terminated, with the actions “all done in such a way that it circumvented the protections of the Civil Service Law.”

Gansfuss is asking for her termination to be reversed and for reinstatement to her full-time civil service position, along with back pay and benefits, as well as attorney’s fees.

In addition to the suit, Gansfuss filed an Article 78 petition, also requesting that her termination be annulled and the town ordered to reinstate her to her position.

Contacted about the lawsuit, town Supervisor Joe Landry said he had yet to read it and declined to comment.

Gansfuss is represented by attorney Cheryl L. Sovern, who could not be reached for comment.

According to the lawsuit, Gansfuss was town director of recreation until 2008, when the board voted to abolish the post in the 2009 budget.

The budget passed that year in a narrow 3-2 vote, with much of the discussions centering on the changes to the recreation department.

By then, Gansfuss had worked for the town for 20 years, 10 years as recreation director and 10 years in senior programs.

Gansfuss notes in her suit that, throughout her employment with the town, she never received unfavorable performance evaluations.

After abolishing the recreation director post, the board then created two positions to carry out the director’s duties, coordinator of parks and senior programs and coordinator of community programs. Each of the new posts carried a salary of $45,000.

Gansfuss was offered the job of coordinator of parks and senior programs. Gansfuss characterizes the move as a demotion, one that required a proper hearing. It also resulted in a $20,000 pay cut, according to records.

The two new posts did not result in an economic benefit for the town, the suit contends.

Then, during 2011, the town began eliminating more of Gansfuss’ job responsibilities, according to the suit. In 2012, Gansfuss was again demoted, this time to a part-time civil service position.

Last November, Gansfuss was informed that come Jan. 1 her position would then be abolished.

Each of the moves required a proper civil service hearing, according to the suit.

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