A former finance director of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority who became one of two acting co-executive directors during a leadership transition sued his former employer late Wednesday, claiming his contract was breached and due process rights denied when he was fired in September.
Stephen T. Simcic, of Lawrenceville, joined the authority in 2001, according to the lawsuit.
After former executive director Michael Kenney left, according to the complaint, Mr. Simcic was asked to become acting executive director, but declined. He accepted an alternative arrangement in which he and Tom Palmosina co-led the agency on an acting basis.
In July, the authority chose an interim executive director, James L. Good, of Veolia Water North America.
According to the complaint, Mr. Simcic was assured privately that he would continue to serve as finance director. The complaint cites Pittsburgh Post-Gazette articles indicating that authority leadership wanted to retain Mr. Simcic in that role.
Mr. Good, however, fired Mr. Simcic in September, telling him it was a "not for cause" firing, according to the complaint. Mr. Simcic was given no warning and no chance to challenge the firing by appealing to the authority board, according to the complaint.
"The decision to terminate his employment was made in secret, and the deliberations leading up to the decision to terminate his employment were conducted in secret," according to the complaint.
The complaint demands that Mr. Simcic be returned to his job with back pay, benefits, interest, compensatory and punitive damages and attorney fees.
In addition to the authority, board members state Rep. Dan Deasy, city Councilman Patrick Dowd and city Finance Director Scott Kunka are named as defendants. They sit on a steering committee which, according to the lawsuit, was required to sign off on any high-level personnel moves.
"I think the fact that there's a lawsuit is unfortunate for both Steve and the authority," said Mr. Dowd, declining to comment on the specifics.
Mr. Deasy declined to comment. Mr. Kunka could not be immediately reached.
An authority spokeswoman could not be immediately reached. Mr. Simcic's attorney, James H. Logan, could not immediately be reached.
Rich Lord: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1542 and on Twitter: @richelord.