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Former board of elections employee alleging wrongful termination

Jan 03, 2020 2:00 pm
A former employee of the Columbia County Board of Elections has filed a notice of claim, naming Columbia County, the Board of Elections, Democratic Commissioner Virginia Martin and Democratic Deputy Commissioner Diane Boice-Yorck, alleging charges of a hostile work environment and violation of the employee's First Amendment rights of speech and association. James J. Dolan, Jr., of Greenport, through his attorney, Lewis B. Oliver, Jr., of Albany, served the county with papers on December 20. WGXC has received a copy of the documents. Dolan was appointed Democratic Election Specialist in March 2016, and he was "unlawfully terminated or resigned under duress" on October 2, 2019, according to the notice. Dolan claims that despite a job description that required an election specialist to work with their Republican colleagues in a cooperative, bipartisan manner, Martin and Boice-Yorck "conspired and cooperated together to create discord and hostility" in the office. Dolan accuses his Democratic colleagues of "unlawfully" directing him to "engage in divisive behavior," discouraging him from being friendly and cooperative, and promoting an atmosphere of "us against them" at the office, thereby undermining the board's fundamental mission "to provide bipartisan service" to county residents and voters. Dolan says he openly expressed his disagreement and dissatisfaction with the policy, and that Martin and Boice-Yorck then allegedly conspired to terminate his employment. He is claiming damages that include lost wages, benefits and pension; as well as, "damage to his political reputation and standing in the community." Martin has served as Democratic Commissioner for 10 years; however, the Board of Supervisors failed to approve her reappointment in December after it took the county more than a month to officially release results of the November general elections. Gallatin Town Supervisor John Reilly, a Republican, said following the December vote, “I think that we as a board have no choice but to look at a full restructure at our board of elections based on the results of this last election.”
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