Gaithersburg’s Manager Tony Tomasello is reviewing the practice of requiring employment contracts with the city’s top employees that state they can be fired with or without cause.
The employees signed the contracts during former city manager Angel Jones’ four years in the job. Jones instituted the practice of issuing contracts to department heads, City Attorney Lynn Board said.
The employment contracts outline each department head’s duties, compensation, benefits and termination and severance conditions. Notably, since each director serves the mayor and council at will, he or she “may be terminated with or without cause” and notice may not be given, according to their contracts.
Historically, Board said, City of Gaithersburg department leaders had not signed contracts. Tomasello, however, is leaning toward keeping them.
“I think it’s in the best interests of the city to have some structure” in the form of written contracts, he said.
The city manager and city attorney, however, do not sign contracts. The terms of their service are outlined in the city code and in a job acceptance letter, Board said, and the mayor and council determine their compensation.
Tomasello was sworn in as city manager in November after a brief term as acting city manager. He has not yet decided what changes he might make to the contracts.
“It’s not something I’ve had the opportunity to get too deeply into,” he said.
Former Director of Human Resources Margaret Daily was one of the department heads who signed a contract during Jones’ term as city manager.
As the Gazette previously reported, Daily said there were no disciplinary actions in her personnel folder while she worked there, but a conflict developed between Daily and Tomasello after he was selected as city manager. She did not support that decision.
For reasons that are still unclear, she was terminated by Tomasello after nearly three decades on the job. According to Daily, Tomasello pressured her to retire, but she refused and was subsequently fired. Her last day of work was Feb. 2.
The contract Daily signed under Jones would have been active until the day Daily was terminated, Board said.