By Alan J. Keays/VTDIgger
RUTLAND—The Rutland Town Selectboard has approved a $60,000 settlement with the municipality’s former administrator, who filed a wrongful termination lawsuit after he was fired last year from his job of more than three decades.
The board voted on the settlement this week to resolve the federal lawsuit brought by Joseph Zingale.
The $60,000 — minus a $2,500 deductible — will be paid to Z ingale by the town’s insurance carrier through the Vermont League of Cities and Towns.
“We believe that this insurance-paid agreement now allows us as a board, and more importantly, our entire community, to put this behind us and focus on our positive agenda moving forward,” the board said in a statement announcing the agreement.
Rutland Town Selectboard Chair Joshua Terenzini said Thursday there was little he could add.
“When our board was presented with the opportunity from the League and all the attorneys involved it made a lot of sense to our board to put this behind us and move on,” he said. “It’s been just over a year of this ongoing litigation and it’s an opportunity for us to move forward.”
Zingale, reached Thursday, said he also wanted to put the litigation behind and move on with his life.
“I’m happy with that number,” Zingale said of the $60,000 settlement figure. “I didn’t want to have to put up with these bozos for another year.”
The Selectboard voted unanimously in September 2017 to fire Zingale, citing “gross misconduct” and “insubordination” on his part. Board members refused at that time to publicly specify what that misconduct entailed or how Zingale was insubordinate.
Zingale shot back with a lawsuit, claiming the Selectboard’s decision to terminate him was an act of retaliation and violated the town’s personnel policies.
The 10-page filing talks of an ongoing issue Zingale had with Chris Kiefer-Cioffi, a Selectboard member at the time, over email, and her contention that Zingale was excluding her from communications between him and other board members.
In August 2017, the lawsuit stated, Zingale contacted Terenzini in hopes of resolving that dispute.
However, later that month, Terenzini spoke to Zingale about a different issue, not submitting time sheets in a timely fashion, according to the lawsuit.
“(Zingale) disputed the requirement to submit a timesheet, as Selectboard chair Terenzini does not require other department heads to consistently submit time sheets,” the filing stated.
The town had a pending motion to dismiss the lawsuit at the time of the settlement.
Zingale served as town administrator, under different titles, for more than 30 years in Rutland Town. He was making a little under $80,000 a year when he was fired.
Rutland Town is a community of about 4,100 residents. It’s a separate municipality from Rutland City, which it surrounds.