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Worker’s suit moved to fed court

Alleges harassment, loss of position in city department following leave of absence

YOUNGSTOWN — A lawsuit filed by an 18-year employee of the Warren Utilities Department over a family leave issue has been transferred to federal court.

Megan Stanislaw, who lives on West Avenue NW, through her attorney, F. Benjamin Rick III of Akron, is seeking from the city punitive damage and awards for economic losses and future earnings. The lawsuit was filed April 13 in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court but transferred to federal court when a Common Pleas judge cited a jurisdiction issue because of the federal Family Leave Act.

The issue at stake is Stanislaw losing her shift leader position after taking family leave and then being harassed unfairly in her new position as assistant administrator.

At a case management hearing last week before federal Judge Benita Y. Pearson, a deadline of Jan. 7, 2022, was set for all dispositions and stipulated documents to be filed.

Another status conference via telephone between the judge and attorneys is set for noon Nov. 3. No trial date has been set.

The complaint stated Stanislaw was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in October 2019 and took leave for two months. After she was cleared to return to her job, she was reassigned as a data entry operator at a pay rate that was $3 per hour fewer than she previously earned.

According to the lawsuit, Stanislaw’s supervisor, utilities office manager Deborah DelBene, has “engaged in an ongoing scheme to harass” her because of her disability. The harassment has taken the form of questioning Stanislaw’s abilities, demanding to know when she will apply for disability retirement and making false accusations that Stanislaw was a bully and racist.

“This harassment was severe and / or pervasive and affected plaintiff’s ability to perform her duties in a stress-free environment as prescribed by her doctor,” the lawsuit states. Complaints about DelBene’s conduct to management and the city’s human resources department has not been met with success, the lawsuit states.

A call was made to the city law department for comment on the lawsuit, but no one responded.

DelBene began working for the city in February 1994 and has been an office manager in the utilities services division since June 2008.

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