'I committed no fireable offense' Unclear why Easthampton mayor's assistant Susan Giza, who surpassed 50 candidates for job, let go after 6 months

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
EASTHAMPTON — Six months after Mayor Karen L. Cadieux hired Susan Giza to be her administrative assistant, Giza is no longer on the job and says she was dismissed without cause.

Giza, 61, of 7 Meadowbrook Drive, held the job from Jan. 6 to June 30. She replaced Cadieux, who served as assistant to former mayor Michael A. Tautznik before being elected mayor herself.

At the Municipal Building Monday, Cadieux said that she could not provide any details about why Giza no longer worked there because it is the city’s policy only to release the dates of employment for former employees.

In a statement emailed to the Gazette Monday, Giza said she did her job well and had no idea that there was a six month probationary period when she took the job. “Although I was never provided the information that there was a probationary period, the mayor imposed a six month probationary discharge on me on June 30, 2014,” Giza said in the statement. “I committed no fireable offense, performed all the work assigned to me, got along well with my co-workers, and received no prior notice that there was a possibility of being terminated.”

Personnel Director Jane F. Sakiewicz provided a copy of the city’s probation policy to the Gazette.

“All employees, including bargaining unit members, are subject to a probationary and/or designated orientation period. In addition, where appropriate, employees are counseled about inadequate or unacceptable work performance,” Sakiewicz said in an email to the Gazette.

Giza’s statement continued, “I have a 30 year record of excellent performance evaluations and have never been discharged from any position I have ever held, including working for the Easthampton Board of Selectmen for several years earlier in my career. I do believe that it was solely the opinion of the mayor that I did not meet standards.”

When Giza beat out 50 other candidates for the job last December, city officials said she was the most qualified because of her years of municipal experience. She worked most recently for 12 years as an administrative assistant at Sage Park Middle School in Windsor, Conn.

“I left a very good job in Connecticut in order to again serve the city of Easthampton and work closer to home, so needless to say, I am devastated and disappointed,” Giza said in her statement. When Easthampton was a town, Giza worked from 1988 to 1991 as an administrative assistant to the town administrator and Select Board, served on several committees and was a Town Meeting member. She is the mother of Maryann Giza, the assistant city clerk.

Giza’s annual salary was $41,035 for a 34-hour work week, according to information provided by the city’s personnel department.

The city posted a notice in the Municipal Building July 22 seeking applicants to fill the position, but it has not been posted on the city’s website. The application period ends Aug. 7.

It advertises the 34-hour per week job as having an anticipated hourly rate of $20.68, for an annual salary of $36,562. The job requires tasks including managing the office, working with the public and maintaining budgets under the direction of the mayor. Requirements include an associate’s degree in business administration or a related field, three to five years experience in municipal government or an administrative position, “or an equivalent of education and experience.”

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.