Town paid former Highway Department employee $50K in settlement

A former Southold Town Highway Department employee received a $50,000 settlement payment when she left her position with the town last year, according to a copy of an agreement obtained by The Suffolk Times. The reasons for the settlement, which includes non-disclosure provisions, have not been made public.

The employee, whose name was redacted in the copy of the settlement but revealed through accounting documents publicly available on the town’s website, agreed to waive any legal claim against the town in exchange for the payment, including potential claims of harassment and discrimination.

The terms of the agreement prohibit the employee, who had worked in the highway office since 2015, from both publicly and privately discussing the settlement and the circumstances of her separation of employment.

The settlement was approved unanimously by the Southold Town Board on March 26, 2019, the employee’s final day of employment with the town, and her resignation was formally accepted at the following meeting.

Town Supervisor Scott Russell signed the settlement agreement April 19 and accounting records show the $50,000 settlement payment was delivered to outside counsel in July, about a month before the staffer was appointed to a similar position in a nearby town, a job she has since left.

Citing Freedom of Information laws last October, The Suffolk Times requested all records pertaining to the claim that resulted in the settlement. The town released the partially redacted copy of the agreement last week.

Town Supervisor Scott Russell said he could not speak about the matter this week, passing the newspaper’s request on to the town attorney’s office, which offered no comment. Highway Superintendent Vincent Orlando did not respond to a request for comment.