Open records request nets details of agreement The City of Stanley will avoid the uncertainties and further expense of litigation with a ‘former employee,’ but to do that will mean paying out …
Open records request nets details of agreement
The City of Stanley will avoid the uncertainties and further expense of litigation with a ‘former employee,’ but to do that will mean paying out $10,000 to former fire Chief
Ronald P. Zais, per the terms of a legal agreement obtained through open records request by this newspaper.
Zais, who took over as Fire Chief for the volunteer fire de partment December 15, 1981, was terminated by the City of Stanley in December of 2019 after two complaints over improper patient transport to Our Lady of Victory Medical Hos- pital resulted in the then fire chief first being placed on paid administrative leave while an investigation was carried out by the State Department of Health Services in regard to the complaints.
Between being put on paid leave and prior to Zais’ termination by the City, it was also deemed necessary to have several buildings in the City reinspected for safety, a task See SETTLEMENT, page 9
Former City of Stanley Fire Chief Ron Zais SEULEMENT
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carried out by city appointed Interim Fire Chief Ron Patten in conjunction with two fire inspectors from the Boyd-Edson-Delmar Fire Department.
Following the announcement of Zais’ termination, a later open records request in early 2020 by this newspaper revealed that the City of Stanley had conducted its own investigation of Zais, with $14,000 ultimately being paid to the law firm of Weld Riley, while Zais filed a grievance against the City “on or about March 18, 2020,” as stated per the agreement.
The details of the grievance filed by Zais with the Department of Workforce Development and cross-filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission were not immediately available, and the $10,000 settlement includes a ‘non-disparagement’ clause between the City and former fire chief.
At the same time, the agreement between Zais and the city was signed by Mayor A1 Haas on July 20 of this year, and by Zais on the 21st after being approved by the Common Council in regular session, following recommendation of the Committee of the Whole.
Haas came into office in April of this year, with Zais terminated under a prior administration. That administration stated at the time of the initial state investigation started that it was “not judging Mr. Zais.” So what’s in the agreement that looks to bury the hatchet between the City and Zais?
In the agreement, the City (i.e. “Respondent”) denies wrongdoing or violation of the law as well as any liability to the one-time fire chief, with both the City and Zais expressing a stated wish to fully compromise and settle all existing and potential disputes” in the matter and costs of litigation.
The terms take effect following payment of $10,000 to Mr. Zais by the city.
Also of note in exchange for the $10,000 one-time payment are the following points:
• A general release of all further claims on the part of both parties, both on the part of the City with regard to decision surrounding Mr. Zais’ employment and termination, along with any potential claims by Zais’ “heirs, assigns, executors, administrators, and agents”
• Withdrawal by Zais of a complaint form to the Department of Workforce Development.
• A confidentiality and non-disparagement clause on the part of both parties to the agreement, the general exceptions being Mr. Zais’ spouse and children, along with attorneys
• A right by Zais to bid on city projects and be treated the same as any other bidder by the City of Stanley
• A right by Zais to attend and participate in open meetings held by the Stanley Common Council and use public buildings “as any other member of the public”
• Whereas Mr. Zais is not prohibited from participating in federal whistleblower programs including those of OSHA, any and all monetary considerations in relation to termination of employment are dropped, with Zais affirming that no elected officials have been reported or charged by him with wrongdoing.
• An affirmation by Zais as of the agreement date that all pay and benefits including those related to the Family and Medical Leave Act have been satisfied , and that the City pf Stanley’s decisions regarding pay and other benefits in relation to the matter of his termination were made in non-discriminatory fashion.
Zais served the community as volunteer fire chief for almost 38 years.