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What you need to know for 08/16/2017

Saratoga Springs DPW worker sues city, claims gender discrimination

Saratoga Springs DPW worker sues city, claims gender discrimination

A Saratoga Springs Department of Public Works employee is suing the city and public works commission

A Saratoga Springs Department of Public Works employee is suing the city and public works commissioner, alleging she is the victim of gender discrimination.

Betty French, a working supervisor in the department, filed the suit last week in U.S. District Court in Albany. She is seeking an undisclosed sum.

She says in the suit that she is the only woman among 13 working supervisors, and that her duties originally included overseeing the Canfield Casino and maintenance in Congress Park, according to the suit.

As a result of her gender, she contends, she eventually was routinely excluded from working supervisor meetings, her staff was reassigned and, finally, she was reassigned to the duties of a laborer “to inventory city tools and count garbage bags.”

“[French] believes that she was removed from her prior assignment and reassigned to perform job duties that are not consistent with her title of Working Supervisor because of her gender,” the suit reads, “and that the Public Works Department is purposely attempting to harass, bully and intimidate her.”

Named as defendants in the suit are the city of Saratoga Springs and city Public Works Commissioner Anthony Scirocco.

Deputy Mayor Joseph Ogden said Friday the city is aware that the suit has been filed, but would have no comment, at least until the city has been formally served with the suit. The city will be represented by attorney John Aspland, he said. Scirocco could not be reached for comment.

French is represented by attorney Ronald Dunn. He did not return a call for comment.

French filed a discrimination complaint against both the city and Scirocco in June 2012 with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and was given a notice of right to sue in February, the federal court filing reads.

The city’s previous public works commissioner, Thomas G. McTygue, hired her in 2007. After Scirocco took over in early 2008, the suit alleges, the discrimination began.

Part of her duties included booking and scheduling functions at the casino.

She performed her duties with no complaints from supervisors, the suit reads. But then, at a September 2011 City Council meeting, Scirocco told the council that bookings at the casino were down 31 percent and that a reservation coordinator was needed. He told the council that French’s duties with the casino had been suffering because of her other job duties, according to the suit.

Scirocco’s comments “came as a complete surprise” to French, according to the suit.

The comments also came after her Congress Park laborers had been reassigned elsewhere and she had been routinely excluded from the working supervisor meetings.

Six months later, French was moved from Congress Park entirely, reassigned to the city garage. She alleges she was told by the deputy public works commissioner that she was moved because there wasn’t much for her to do since she no longer handled the casino reservations.

“This was very confusing to [French] because she had previously been told by the Public Works Department that the work activities relating to the Canfield Casino were being reassigned because there was too much work for her to do and that the community would be better served if those tasks were reassigned,” the suit reads.

French contends the deputy commissioner’s comments that there wasn’t a lot of work for her to do ultimately “is pretext for discrimination,” the suit reads.

A male working supervisor was reassigned to French’s old job of supervising workers at the casino and park, the suit reads. A part-time employee has been hired for the casino and a full-time employee for the park.

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