Leetsdale borough officials plan to fight a lawsuit recently filed by a former borough clerk who claims she was let go from her job for political reasons.
“The borough is reviewing the complaint and preparing to defend,” Megan Ott, solicitor for Leetsdale borough, said Tuesday.
Sandra Bajsec, 59, of Leetsdale, sued the borough Friday in U.S. District Court, stating in the suit that she was fired because of her "perceived" political affiliation to her husband, former council vice president Michael Bajsec.
Bajsec's Pittsburgh attorney, Samuel Cordes, said a person cannot be fired because of his or her political affiliation under the U.S. Constitution.
The lawsuit specifically names Council President Joseph McGurk and council members Melanie Dunn, Linda Michael and Jeffrey Weatherby as defendants, alleging that the four eliminated Bajsec's position "with reckless disregard of her federally protected right to not have her employment conditioned on a pledge of political allegiance to a party or candidate," namely her husband.
Former councilman Michael Bajsec was appointed to the board in March 2010. In July 2010, Sandra Bajsec began working part time for Leetsdale. Her employment status was later changed to full time.
According to the complaint, Dunn, McGurk, Michael and Weatherby banded together under the name “Concerned Citizens for Leetsdale” and began running an election campaign in late 2010. Part of their campaign strategy, according to the complaint, included letters and a campaign flier that claimed Bajsec obtained her job because her husband was on council.
The accusation that Sandra Bajsec obtained her job through her husband was not true because Michael Bajsec abstained from the vote offering her a position, the lawsuit states.
The suit goes on to say that the four campaigned on a promise to oust Sandra Bajsec.
The four won their bids for election in the general election in November and were sworn in last month during a Jan. 3 reorganization meeting. At that meeting, the lawsuit states, Weatherby made a motion to terminate the position of junior clerk, "effective immediately,” as well as former Borough Manager Paul Scimio’s position, and to negotiate an employment agreement with Elizabeth Petalino as borough secretary, a motion that was seconded by Dunn.
The lawsuit states that although Bajsec’s “discharge was characterized as a position elimination, the 2012 borough budget includes a position of Assistant Borough Secretary" that is "substantively identical" to Bajsec's former junior clerk position.
The suit claims the firing “constitutes misuse of power” and that as a result of the firing, Bajsec has sustained lost wages, emotional distress, loss of reputation, humiliation and inconvenience.
Bajsec is seeking reinstatement to her position as well as lost pay and benefits, and attorney’s fees.