The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

August 22, 2013

2 retirees settle claim with city over unused sick days

By Joe Wiercinski
Herald Staff Writer

SHARON — Two former city of Sharon workers have settled their claim for payment for sick days they had not used before they retired.

The women sued in 2010 for breach of contract and sought a total of almost $11,000 they said was due but that the city had refused to pay them.

Under a settlement concluded in June, Carol Dunham, formerly of 691 Fisher Hill St., received $5,374. She had claimed $7,165 for 49 accumulated sick days.

Dunham retired in June 2010 after 12 years as a city employee. When she retired, Dunham was working in the nonunion job of deputy treasurer, which she started in March 2007.

Susan T. Weisgarber, 828 Smith Ave., was paid $2,872 in the settlement. She had sought $3,830 for days of unused sick time.

Weisgarber worked as a nonunion executive secretary in the community development department from August 2001 until December 2009 when she retired.

For years the women were members of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2692.

According to the contract between the union and the city, a retiring employee was entitled to “a special retirement payment” for unused sick days up to a maximum of 120 days.

When she was a union member, Weisgarber was a real estate tax clerk, bookkeeper and wage tax clerk between June 1998 and August 2001.

From April 1998 until February 2007, Dunham was a clerk in the treasurer’s office.

Until 2008, union members received 16 days of sick leave a year. In September 2008 city officials changed the nonunion sick pay policy.

According to the lawsuit filed for the women by attorney William G. McConnell Jr., the city had earlier established the practice of paying both union and nonunion employees for unused sick time as described in union contracts.

He challenged the city’s attempt to “retroactively eliminate” that payment for Weisgarber and Dunham.

Citing a confidentiality agreement in the settlement, McConnell declined further comment on the case.

Details of the settlement came through City Manager Scott Andrejchak after The Herald requested a copy of the contract under the state Open Records law.

The city paid the women’s claims from general operating funds, he said.

There is one former union member still working as a nonunion city employee but Andrejchak said there are no pending claims for payment of sick day benefits as in the present case.

“If there were to be claims by other similarly situated people, they would have to make a demand,” he said.