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Lawyer says former Phelps employee was fired for supporting highway superintendent’s opponent

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A law firm based out of Albany, New York says Town of Phelps Highway Department Superintendent Terry Featherly wrongfully terminated Ryan VanCamp, a former employee of the Town.

According to the law firm Tully Legal the termination was brought on due to his political views.

In June 2021, VanCamp, a motor equipment operator was terminated after appearing to support Fatherly’s opponent in the upcoming election.

Featherly is being challenged by Philip Frere for the elected position of highway superintendent.

Following a ‘common’ mowing accident, for which the law firm says there is no evidence of other employees being terminated – VanCamp was told it wasn’t “working out here.”

When VanCamp tried to ask what that meant, his supervisor continued to repeat that “things weren’t working out.” Despite his consistent and reliable attendance, and lack of disciplinary issues, he was given a termination letter stating, “poor performance and unsafe operation of equipment,” according to the law firm.

The firm alleges that in the days leading up to his termination, it was brought to VanCamp’s attention that Featherly took issue with his political views. He accused VanCamp of posting on social media about not voting for his re-election and even having a yard sign in support of Mr. Frere, according to the firm.

“The fact that Mr. VanCamp’s supervisor did not initially give him a valid reason for his termination, aside from ‘[It] just not working out’ intimates that there were other reasons for this action that are unrelated to his job performance,” said Tully Rinckey employment attorney Adam Grogan, who is representing VanCamp. “Dismissing an employee because of his or her political affiliation is a direct violation of the law.”

Under New York State’s labor law, “an employee may not be discharged from their employment on the basis of their ‘political activities outside of working hours, off of the employer’s premises and without use of the employer’s equipment or other property, if such activities are legal.” N.Y. Lab. Law § 201-d(2)(a).

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