Town of Potsdam names new acting assessor; former assessor suing town on sex discrimination claim
Friday, July 14, 2017 - 6:12 am

By CRAIG FREILICH

POTSDAM -- James McGuire, a former Triple A manager, has been appointed as the town’s new acting assessor.

He is to be the full-time replacement for James Snyder, who resigned and is suing the town with a claim of sex discrimination.

Kim Bisonette, a former assessor who has been filling in as acting assessor resigned that post at the Town Council meeting July 11, and was hired as a consultant to help McGuire get up to speed.

McGuire’s experience includes 20 years at Triple A Building Centers, but he does not yet have the credentials or experience to be a full assessor. With Bisonette’s help, he is expected to officially qualify within six months, when his acting assessor appointment must end. Satisfactory completion of six months of paid work in the field is sufficient qualification for the job, according to the state.

His annual salary will be $40,000, prorated for the balance of 2017.

McGuire has a master’s degree in finance and has been a member of the community for 30 years.

Snyder, the former assessor who is claiming damages of $1 million, alleges in his suit that the town discriminated against him because of his sex in matters of salary, benefits and treatment compared with women at the town office.

In a filing in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York in December, Snyder, whose resignation was accepted by the Town Council April 11, claims the town "breached the agreement that the plaintiff shall receive the same benefits as everyone else…"

Another cause of action in the filing states that "since 2009 (former supervisor) Marie Regan and the Town of Potsdam town board have failed to provide a safe and hostile free workplace," failed to act on his harassment claim, and failed to provide a harassment policy.

“The Town of Potsdam takes action when a female employee alleges allegations of harassment, but ignores them when a male employee does the same,” the filing from Snyder says.

The claim in federal court is based on provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In addition to $1 million in damages, Snyder is seeking reimbursement "for discriminatory and unfair salaries" and for medical insurance premiums, implementation of a harassment policy by the town, and a letter of apology from Regan.