23 Aug 2014
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Laid Off Library Employees Claim Discrimination

Board votes to lay off two stay-at-home moms who did not conform to hour changes.

Laid Off Library Employees Claim Discrimination

Two female employees claimed they were discriminated against after the library Board of Trustees voted unanimously to lay them off Monday for not coming to work on a night or weekend shift when they said they had to watch their kids.

The employees, Ann Kaplan, 48, and Marilyn Giancaterino, 47, will be given 45 days notice that they are being laid off for reasons of efficiency, but both women were in attendance at Monday night's meeting and spoke after the board voted. Their positions are not expected to be filled.

Kaplan told the board she had been a part-time library assistant at the library since 2007 and that she had traditionally worked 9 a.m. to noon Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. In November, Kaplan said she was informed by Library Director Allan Kleiman that she would need to enter a rotation to work some nights and weekends, but she said she told him she was unable to work nights because of "family obligations."

The issue came before the board and in public because the employees were Rice noticed that issues regarding their employment would be discussed at the meeting and the employees chose to have the matters discussed in open session.

Kleiman said the issues arose when all library employees were asked to go on a rotating schedule out of fairness for each other. The new rotation asked the employees to work one Sunday per month and one or two evenings per month, Kleiman said.

Kleiman said that out of 12 employees, Kaplan and Giancaterino were the only two who took issue with the rotation. After not showing up for work during the scheduled shifts, which both woman said they talked to Kleiman about, they were issued notices of insubordination.

Kleiman added that all employees, including himself, are included in the responsibilities of the rotation, which began two years ago.

"I work Sundays, I work evenings," he said. "We need to be able to have staff help us fill those hours so that we can operate seven days."

Board Attorney Ann Grossi told the board they had options, which included taking disciplinary action or laying off the employees. But Grossi discouraged the board from taking disciplinary action because she said the process can be both lengthy and costly.

"Discipline is supposed to be used in order to correct a situation," she said. "Both of them feel that they cannot work those hours under any circumstances."

Both Kaplan and Giancaterino said they were formerly stay-at-home moms who worked at the library part-time and both said they were hired under daytime-only hours. Giancaterino has been an employee of the library for three years, she said.

"I truly feel as though I'm being discriminated against as a former full-time, stay-at-home mother getting back into the workforce," Kaplan said.

Giancaterino told the board that she attempted to work with the schedule, but that it became too difficult because she had to care for her son and her mother. 

Grossi also said that she had been in touch with the employees' union and that "the union's position is that we don't have the right to change the schedules."

"Our position is that we do have the right to do it," she said.

After the meeting, Kaplan said she does not plan to appeal the board's decision, but that she is disappointed.

"I'm disappointed because I just feel like we didn't really get our chance," Kaplan said. "I love it here. I love it. I finally found something that I love to do. I was just really happy here."

Giancaterino said she is unsure whether she will try to fight the decision of the board, but she does not think she or Kaplan would qualify for unemployment since they were part-time employees.

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