Engineer asks board to rein in director

WARREN — Claims that the Trumbull County engineer created a hostile work environment that forced the planning commission director to take medical leave are a “ruse and disingenuous,” states a letter from the engineer’s office that asks the county planning commission board to intervene.

Trish Nuskievicz, director of the Trumbull County Planning Commission, is using time she has accrued and the Family Medical Leave Act to take time off for “serious health-related conditions that have been caused from working in a very hostile work environment.” Her condition is a result of “intense psychological abuse, bullying, retaliation, discrimination and general harassment brought about by the Trumbull County engineer and his associates,” Nuskievicz wrote in a July letter to Jim Shader, chairman of the planning commission board.

In a Thursday letter written by engineer attorney Matt Blair on behalf of Trumbull County Engineer Randy Smith, Blair accuses Nuskievicz of “staging” sympathy-garnering events with her wife, Heidi Nuskievicz. Heidi Nuskievicz attended two recent Trumbull County commissioner meetings and told commissioners she hoped they were doing something to address Trish Nuskievicz’s claims.

Blair states in the letter, “the husband of Trish Nuskievicz appeared on behalf of her wife asking commissioners to take some form of action against Trumbull County Engineer Randy Smith,” the letter states.

“I am so hurt that the engineer’s attorney took a dig at my sexual orientation by referring to my wife as my husband in his letter,” Trish Nuskievicz said. “It’s so offensive and you would think anyone with any decency would stop with the insults, especially when it’s their actions that have caused me to be put on medical leave.”

Blair said he isn’t familiar with the correct “lingo” to address a same-sex couple.

Trish Nuskievicz said her wife went to the meetings because she has been by her side through a year of “harassment and bullying” and retaliation against her and wanted to say something from her heart in defense of her wife.

Blair states in his letter that Smith couldn’t be responsible for creating a hostile work environment because Smith and Nuskievicz have barely spoken and they don’t work in the same building.

“The Trumbull County Engineer does not employ Trish Nuskievicz and she does not have an office anywhere near the Trumbull County Engineer’s Office. It is rather hard to imagine, given these facts, that Trumbull County Engineer Smith could be responsible for creating a hostile work environment for an individual who heads the Trumbull County Planning Commission and is paid a salary commensurate with his own,” the letter states.

The two departments usually have to work together on projects.

The planning board is scheduled to meet 9 a.m. today. The Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Office wrote a letter Wednesday recommending the planning board hire an outside investigator with the County Risk Sharing Authority of Ohio, a not-for-profit corporation that offers property and liability insurance to its members, to look into Nuskievicz’s allegations.