SARATOGA SPRINGS — The former director of risk and safety for the city of Saratoga Springs has filed a lawsuit against Mayor Ron Kim and Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino claiming a discriminatory and hostile work environment.
Marilyn Rivers, through her attorney Benjamin Hill, filed the lawsuit Monday in state Supreme Court in Saratoga County. In the lawsuit, Rivers, an almost two-decade employee of the city who retired in April, claims that her reputation was maligned by Kim who repeatedly questioned her knowledge and accused her of pretending to be a lawyer representing the city in depositions.
“On March 21, 2022, city Attorney Izzo requested a ‘quick’ meeting with Mrs. Rivers at which he informed Mrs. Rivers that, at the behest of Mayor Kim, he was investigating her for her alleged improper attendance as a representative of the city in various prior cases against the city,” Rivers said in the court filing.
Rivers disputes the city leaders’ assertions that she mispresented herself in city proceedings.
“Mrs. Rivers has never ‘acted as an attorney’ and tried to explain her responsibilities and practices as the Director of Risk and Safety and as the city’s authorized insurance representative working with insurance carrier claims managers and assigned legal counsel throughout her 19 year tenure per the responsibilities assigned to her by the previous commissioner of accounts and city councils ad her professional credentials,” Rivers claims in her lawsuit.
Rivers’ lawsuit contends that Kim shared those accusations not only with other officials in the city, but outside third parties, including the city’s insurance agent, Matt D’Abate at Amsure Insurance Company.
Rivers said she filed a hostile-workplace claim with the city’s Human Resources Department around May 24, 2022, regarding the accusations and other attempts by the mayor, such as speaking dismissively to her, to undermine her authority. Rivers, who is over 40 and a woman, claims the hostile work environment was created because of her sex and age.
Following the filing of that claim, Rivers alleges, Kim tried to move her position from the accounts department to being overseen by the city attorney and also accused her, during a public meeting, of trying to resolve a legal matter against the city without involving the city attorney or any other council or department involved in the case.
It was during that time that, Rivers said, Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran indicated there were people on the City Council out to get Rivers.
Rivers’ lawsuit also claims that Kim accused her of trying to hide a $25,000 voucher to the city’s insurance agency in the city’s consent agenda. During a meeting in August 2022, Montagnino, as quoted in court documents, accused Rivers of “‘reprehensible actions’ action” and “‘pulling a fast one.’”
She said the accusations were false and she had in fact been given a verbal go-ahead by the deputy commissioner of accounts for the payment.
Rivers said the false accusations were used against her at the August 2022 meeting in which the council approved a motion to move Rivers’ position under the general supervision of the mayor’s office.
“Mrs. Rivers’ constitutional and civil service job rights were continually violated by the public airing of malicious and false accusations that she pretended to be a lawyer in legal proceedings and engaged in questionable unknown management of insurance claims and litigation,” court documents state.
Kim said he has not yet viewed the lawsuit and so would not comment on the matter. Rivers’ attorney could not be reached for further comment.
Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at [email protected].