Judge Dismisses Former Belmont County DJFS Director’s Lawsuit
A visiting judge ruled against former Belmont County Department of Job and Family Services director and former county commission candidate Vince Gianangeli in a lawsuit he filed against the Belmont County Board of Commissioners in an effort to get his old job back.
Gianangeli’s suit argued that he should have been reinstated to his former position as fiscal business administrator for DJFS following his firing in February 2020 by the board. He had held positions within the department since 2004.
In 2019 he retired as director and was rehired back to the director’s position. This allowed him to draw on his pension, but he took a cut of $30,000 to his yearly pay as director.
Gianangeli lost his director’s job after he “disregarded a vote by the commissioners,” the board stated in a release. Gianangeli also released a statement about that matter, saying that two commissioners voted to terminate an individual within the DJFS whose resignation Gianangeli already had accepted.
The case hinged on whether Gianangeli forfeited consideration for reinstatement to the fiscal post when he retired as director and was rehired.
The issue is covered by Ohio Revised Code section 329.02, which states “if a person holding a classified position in the department is appointed as director on or after that date and is later removed by the board … the person so removed has the right to resume the position the person held in the classified service immediately prior to being appointed as director.”
On May 16, visiting Judge Linton Lewis dismissed the case.
Kathleen M. Minahan, an attorney with Mazanec, Raskin & Ryder Co. representing the county commissioners, had submitted a motion for summary judgment in the commissioners’ favor.
“We’re very pleased that the court concluded — as did the commissioners — that Mr. Gianangeli lost his fall-back rights when he retired as director on April 20, 2019,” Minahan said “I do anticipate Mr. Gianangeli will appeal, but I don’t expect any different result on appeal.
The judgment refers to the case of Voltz v. Erie County, Pennsylvania, in 2015, when a job and family services employee who went from a classified caseworker to assistant director before being fired. Lewis wrote in his judgment that he found the situations similar.
Gianangeli’s attorney, Helen Robinson, said an appeal is likely. She added that Gianangeli’s situation had been a mutually satisfactory benefit to the county.
“By him retiring, staying in the same job, it really helped the county because he’s making a lower salary,” Robinson said. “The heart of the matter is that Mr. Gianangeli worked for the Job and Family Services and for the state for years, and no questions whatsoever about his performance.
“He retired. … There was no interruption of service, it was just a different status, but his job remained the same. … Then for no reason, he was removed from the position,” she said.