The former manager of Union Township is accusing his ex-employer of violating his contract when supervisors allegedly fired him for pointing out they didn’t have the authority to close a state road.
In the complaint filed on his behalf Tuesday in the Washington County Court of Common Pleas, Robert Balogh claims the township breached its contract with him and violated the state Whistleblower Law.
Balogh worked for the township for less than a year. His contract provided he’d be hired at a salary of $75,000, effective Sept. 8, 2017. He lives in North Strabane Township and is a supervisor in his hometown. The Union Township solicitor, Gary Sweat, is also the solicitor in North Strabane.
Balogh’s attorney, Christine Elzer – who wrote the five-page complaint – alleges that he objected during the summer when supervisors were planning to block Courtney Hill Road by hauling dirt onto both ends of it. Meeting minutes show that at least since last year, officials were raising concerns about flooding on the road that was severe enough at times to trap vehicles whose drivers tried to pass through it.
Balogh, however, told supervisors during a June 13 meeting that they couldn’t legally block the state road without permission from the state Department of Transportation – a conclusion Sweat allegedly upheld. The supervisors allegedly voted to do so anyway.
Sweat declined to answer questions about the suit because township officials hadn’t been formally served in the case and he hadn’t seen the complaint.
Elzer wrote that the supervisors went on to “publicly berate” Balogh the following month. He allegedly requested an executive session during the July 11 meeting. During the closed-door conversation, Balogh reportedly told his bosses the “negative work environment” was having “effects on (his) health.”
The board allegedly granted him a leave of absence but sent him a letter less than a week later saying it had decided he’d resigned. Balogh’s attorney reportedly sent a letter insisting he was on medical leave. Supervisors allegedly canceled his health insurance in late September.
Balogh’s lawsuit alleges he was terminated without cause, and the board failed to comply with the terms of his contract, which was supposed to provide him six months of severance pay and benefits.
It also claims he was fired in retaliation for opposing the blockage of the state road without PennDOT approval.