Labor & Management
By Gary S. Howell
Aug 29, 2004, 22:02

Joan Priebe, former Depew village clerk, filed suit in federal court claiming the village board violated her rights under the Equal Pay Act. The long-time clerk was not reappointed to her post in April of 2003.

At the same time, the board was trying to create the village administrator’s position. The position may never have officially existed because the civil service administration never approved it.

Depew’s board attempted to create the Village Administrator’s position in February of 2002. The duties listed in the job description were similar to those assigned the village clerk.

The board told the public that the position was being created to save money. However, in 2002, the clerk earned $35,000 a year. The Administrator position started at $45,000 a year. Robert Kucewicz, who was appointed to fill the job, now earns $46,575, as the village clerk.

In early 2002, the Depew Village Board accepted Mr. Kucewicz’s resignation as mayor, a job that paid, $11,800. At the same meeting, the board appointed village trustee Joseph McIntosh to the mayoral seat. They also appointed William Maryniewski to fill the board seat vacated by McIntosh. The newly realigned board proceeded to appoint Robert Kucewicz to be the Village Administrator.

Mrs. Priebe’s suit claims that, on March 19, 2003, Joseph Cipolla, Depew’s community development director, asked her for access to confidential election documents. Priebe, whose duties included being the election officer, refused Mr. Cippolla’s request.

On March 21, 2003, Priebe told Joseph McIntosh and Robert Kucewicz she planned to retire. She requested half of her medical benefits. Access to that benefit is allowed under the village rules and regulations for non-union workers.

McIntosh told Ms. Priebe she would not be given the benefit.

Ms. Priebe contends that she was denied the benefits and terminated in retaliation for her refusal to grant Mr. Cipolla access to the confidential records.

At the board’s annual reorganization meeting in April of 2003, Ms. Priebe was terminated as village clerk.

During fiscal 2003-2004, Robert Kucewicz was paid $45,000. The money came from the budget line dedicated to the village clerk.

In 2004, residents asked mayor McIntosh what Mr. Kucewicz’s official title is. The mayor replied that Kucewicz was the village clerk, not the village administrator.

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