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LIBERTY POLICE Former captain files suit



Published: Fri, August 10, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The township has maintained it did nothing wrong.

By AMANDA C. DAVIS

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- A sergeant with Liberty police is suing the township and its civil service commission over a demotion she says is unlawful.

Janet Virostek of Townsend Avenue filed the lawsuit this week in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.

The case is assigned to Judge Andrew Logan.

The township's civil service commission ruled in July that township trustees acted properly when they demoted her from her rank as captain.

Wants decision reversed: Now, Virostek says she wants the decision reversed and her position returned without loss of seniority and benefits.

She is also asking for lost wages and related benefits such as retirement contributions, and for interest and legal fees.

Virostek was unavailable Thursday. Her attorney, Denise Knecht of Cleveland, said this is the third time Virostek has claimed discrimination against the township.

Knecht said Virostek believes she's being treated unfairly because she's taken action against the township in the past.

Atty. Mark Finamore, who represents the township, said he doesn't believe there's merit to Virostek's case and that her claims will be vigorously defended.

Trustees reorganized the department in April, eliminating the ranks of two captains and two sergeants. Then-police Chief Michael Pilolli resigned and became a captain.

In May, trustees rescinded the reorganization, leaving Pilolli and James Cerenelli holding the two captain's posts.

Demotion: Having less seniority, Virostek was demoted and made a sergeant.

She appealed to the commission, saying the demotion was done out of retaliation, not to increase efficiency.

Trustees said the captain's position was abolished because a study found the department had too many ranking officers. They also said they gave Virostek bumping rights and weren't required to show increased efficiency.

The township must follow Ohio law, which the lawsuit says lists reasons why civil service employees can be reduced in pay or position. The lawsuit contends that list does not apply to Virostek because her behavior has been good and her service efficient.

"When a governing body adds a person to a position, then claims excess positions and abolishes a position to remove another person, the intent and purpose of the classified service will be violated," the lawsuit says.

The township argues it was obligated to restore Pilolli's post as captain, and that having only two captain's posts means the least senior captain is demoted.




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