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Ex-director gets $80K in settlement

WARREN — A settlement of about $80,000 was reached with the former director of the Trumbull County Planning Commission, who filed a case with the State Personnel Board of Review contesting the decision to fire her.

Trish Nuskievicz was fired in October 2019 while she was on extended medical leave related to complaints about how she was treated by county colleagues.

Payroll funds from the Trumbull County general fund were used to make the payment to Nuskievicz, said attorney Jeffery Stankunas, who represented the Trumbull County Planning Commission board in the appeal of its decision.

As part of the agreement, Nuskievicz was reinstated to the position, and then voluntarily resigned.

The payout is comprised of the pay she would have received between Oct. 29, 2019, and June 29, and vacation pay. The settlement specifies Nuskievicz will not pursue any other legal claims against the planning commission.

Nuskievicz went on medical leave through the Family Medical Leave Act in July 2018, after developing “serious health-related conditions that have been caused from working in a very hostile work environment,” a result of “intense psychological abuse, bullying, retaliation, discrimination and general harassment,” she stated in a 2018 letter to the planning commission board.

The planning commission board completed a $42,000 investigation after she went on leave, but it “offered little clarity and did not name anyone as responsible for her claims,” the board said in a joint statement after she was terminated.

The board replaced her with Julie Green, who was the county grant manager.

Nuskievicz’s claims about bad behavior forcing her out were not directed at planning commission employees, but at people in other county offices. Some of those people had complaints about her performance in the job, although the investigation could not verify claims from either side. The investigation report described poor communication, “microaggressions” and suspicions between the parties involved.

After the letter to the board was released, county Engineer Randy Smith sued Nuskievicz and her wife, but later dropped the lawsuit.

Nuskievicz said she is glad the ordeal is behind her.

“From the start, I tried to solve problems, but both parties have to want to solve a problem, not just one. The situation just wasn’t right. I just want to move on and make a positive difference in the community,” Nuskievicz said. “After everything that happened, this was the best possible outcome, though none of this should have happened in the first place.”

Nuskievicz said she had a pristine record with the county before the controversy cropped up, and she feels as if she “got back what they tried to take away.”

The agreement also restores retirement time.

Stankunas said the State Personnel Board of Review will finalize the agreement and then dismiss the case.

“I think one of the values of this agreement is that it allows both parties to move on and allows them to decide the terms, instead of the State Personnel Board of Review or a court,” Stankunas said.

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