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6 file complaints against Niki Frenchko

WARREN — The six women who work in the Trumbull County commissioners office signed a letter Wednesday asking for an investigation into the “hostile work environment” in the office.

The letter, meant to serve as a “written complaint,” is addressed to Richard Jackson, the director of human resources for the county, and signed by office employees Shara Taylor, Lisa DeNunzio Blair, Dawn Gedeon, Kelly Clarke, Christine Glenn and Paula Vivoda-Klotz.

“We are experiencing intimidation and harassment by Commissioner (Niki) Frenchko who is attempting to displace and remove employees. As you are aware, most of us are long-term employees with exemplary records — we do not take this situation lightly. We just want to see a resolution to this difficult and stressful situation,” the letter obtained by the Tribune Chronicle states.

Jackson said he will begin an investigation shortly and write a report to furnish to commissioners at its completion.

Jackson, Glenn and Vivoda-Klotz filed complaints with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, the State Personnel Board of Review and the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission against the board of commissioners earlier this year, singling Frenchko out among the three-person board. Some of Vivoda-Klotz’s complaint is regarding changes to her job title that occurred before Frenchko took office.

Gedeon filed a union grievance against the commissioners earlier this year after Frenchko brought a cat to work.

A time stamp at the top of the letter lists the date and time of the complaint as 10:18 a.m. Wednesday.

Frenchko showed the Tribune Chronicle a video she took in the commissioners office about the same time showing fellow commissioners Mauro Cantalamessa and Frank Fuda leaving Cantalamessa’s office, where they had been meeting with Jackson and the women who signed the complaint, except Glenn who works in a different office building as a scheduler.

The video shows Frenchko questioning what the meeting was about and Cantalamessa telling her “staff,” and other videos show her asking the women what the meeting was about, and being told they were instructed not to talk to her about it and that she should ask Jackson.

In another video she shared, Frenchko is in Jackson’s office at 11:55 a.m. asking him the topic of the earlier meeting. He tells her it was a discussion about the “division of labor.”

The county’s clerk / office manager Paulette Godfrey retired from the position, and the county hasn’t named a replacement.

Frenchko tells Jackson in the video she had sent an email earlier about job descriptions for the office workers and wondered why staff were told not to speak to her about the issue. Jackson states it’s because 10 minutes prior to the encounter with Frenchko, he received the signed complaint.

Frenchko said she believes Jackson, who has an active complaint about her alleging she treats him poorly because he is a man, is orchestrating more complaints against her.

“These are more calculated political games by people who said this would be coming, publicly on social media. This is the pushback that you get when you keep your promises to the public,” she said.

Jackson said more specifics about the complaint the office staff have won’t be made public until the completion of his investigation. He said he was given the complaint and did not orchestrate it or call the meeting.

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