George Phillips is suing the Town of Glenville for accumulated sick, personal and vacation time, along with alleged unpaid salary and longevity, he says he accumulated before his abrupt departure from Town Hall.
Phillips was told his employment as town comptroller would be terminated at the end of last year, according to Town Attorney Michael Cuevas. His final day of employment was Dec. 28. The Town Board then appointed Jason Cuthbert, Schenectady’s ousted city budget analyst, during its organizational meeting Wednesday, Jan. 3, to the position for a one-year term.
Little explanation has been given for the switch, but Town Supervisor Christopher Koetzle again said the change was made “in the best interest of the town,” and thanked Phillips for his service. The town employed him for more than 10 years.
Eric Dickson, who is representing Phillips, filed papers on Wednesday, Jan. 23, in Schenectady County Court claiming Phillips’ termination was “improper” and he should have been allowed to hold his position until a successor was appointed. Phillips is seeking payment of salary, longevity, 21 days and 3.5 hours of vacation time, six days and three hours of personal time and 149.5 days of sick time, including interest for such payments. Phillips is also seeking an undefined amount of compensatory and punitive damages and associated legal fees.
Koetzle and Cuevas both said the lawsuit is without merit.
“I can’t say much because it is a pending legal matter before the town, but it is a baseless claim,” Koetzle said. “Our view is not consistent with Mr. Phillips’ view.”
Cuevas argued Phillips was only the acting comptroller and was never appointed to the full, two-year term. Koetzle previously said the town had held an open search for the position but failed to find a suitable candidate, so Phillips then was placed in the role.
Cuevas said if Phillips was awarded all claims the town could pay out around $30,000, but he is doubtful of that ruling.
“From what we can gather from the little that they say, we don’t see that they have any cause for action against the town,” Cuevas said. “I think the misconception that many people and many public employees have is that they are entitled to a windfall when they leave town employment, and that is not necessarily true.”
Since Phillips wasn’t part of a union, Cuevas said Phillips doesn’t have “any contractual remedy” a collective bargaining agreement might hold.
Dickson, though, said otherwise.
“It was required by the terms and conditions of his employment,” Dickson said. “Everyone else who has left the town received this reimbursement.”