Lawyer for Village of Warwick responds to discrimination lawsuit

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:46

    WARWICK-The lawyer representing the Village of Warwick categorically denied charges leveled against the village in a response filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Attorney James Randazzo denied the majority of the allegations, including that male employees in the Department of Public Works are paid more and receive better benefits than the six women who filed the complaint and make up the majority of the office staff at Village Hall. The response also denied that the mayor and board of trustees have created a hostile working environment at the Village Hall. Six female employees have filed a federal discrimination complaint against the village, alleging they are being treated unfairly in terms of salary and vacation as compared to their male counterparts. Seven women work in the Village Hall; one, who is a civil service employee, is not part of this lawsuit. Randazzo said in the response that the village indeed had a three-year agreement with the office staff from June 1998 to May 2001 that renewed automatically year-to-year. In the complaint, the women stated the village maintained a contract with the office staff for at least 10 years, keeping them on pay and benefit parity with the male employees of the DPW. They allege the village allowed this agreement to lapse and refused to negotiate for a new contract. Public works employees are represented by Teamsters International Union Local 445. In several instances, the village's response simply states: "Respondent denies the allegations contained in paragraph X of the complaint." The complaint also states the women received compensatory time for evening and overtime work until June 2004. At that time, the women said they were told they would instead receive a stipend representing average compensatory time. The response denied this, but stated that the stipend was suggested by Gail Romanoski, the village treasure who also is one of the complainants. The board did vote to grant the code enforcer an extra three days of vacation time because he does not receive overtime or compensatory time, Randazzo noted. This was in response to a formal, written request, he said. The women state in their complaint that he received an extra week of vacation and when they complained about it, the mayor said the women "should consider themselves fortunate to have received a raise." All village employees, including the complainants, the mayor and trustees received a 3 percent increase last year. Randazzo said in his response that employees were told they were fortunate that the village was able to afford any salary increase. He also calculated that the complainants, who work a 32-hour week, actually receive higher hourly wages than the workers at the Department of Public Works, who work 40 hours. "The complaint must fail because the complainants have alleged no facts to suggest that the Village of Warwick pays different wages to employees of different sexes, when they are doing equal work on the jobs, the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, under similar working conditions," he stated. He also said the complaint would fail because there are no instances showing sexual advances or stereotyped and demeaning comments or anything creating a hostile working environment