The former Glens Falls assessor will be allowed to collect unemployment insurance after a mid-level state appeals court ruled in her favor Thursday, weeks after her lawsuit against the city and its Common Council were dismissed in federal court.
The city of Glens Falls lost a court battle this week over Lauren Stack’s unemployment claim, with the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court finding that the state Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board was correct in finding that Stack should be paid unemployment despite being fired for cause.
She was fired in 2016 after a series of off-duty arrests.
The city of Glens Falls had initially contested Stack’s application for unemployment, and she appealed to the appeal board, which ruled in her favor in June 2017. The city of Glens Falls then appealed that determination, and the Appellate Division found no basis to overturn the finding.
The court found that the “misconduct” that led to her firing was not sufficient to disqualify her from unemployment.
“Substantial evidence supports the board’s finding that claimant had not committed disqualifying misconduct and was entitled to receive benefits,” Justice Eugene Devine wrote.
Glens Falls was represented by City Attorney Ronald Newell, while Stack was represented by David Woodin of Catskill.
Stack had sued the city in state Supreme Court over her termination, alleging wrongful termination, but that lawsuit was dismissed because it was filed too late.
She then sued in U.S. District Court in Albany, claiming her rights were violated by the disciplinary process that included a “pre-termination hearing (that) was a sham and violated her procedural due process rights.” But U.S. District Judge Frederick Scullin ruled in the city’s favor in late August, and dismissed the lawsuit when finding the proper procedures were followed.
Stack, of Lake George, was fired in October 2016 after she pleaded guilty in connection with two drunken and impaired driving cases, resulting in a 90-day driver’s license suspension that city officials said made her incapable of doing her job.
Both criminal cases were disposed of in September 2016 with a plea deal that included guilty pleas to misdemeanor reckless endangerment and two reduced, noncriminal charges of driving while ability impaired. She was sentenced to 3 years on probation. Stack claimed she didn’t need a driver’s license to do her job.
After Stack was hired, city leaders learned in 2012 that she had been convicted of felony burglary in Florida in 1998.
The Common Council fired her after Glens Falls City Clerk Robert Curtis, serving as a hearing officer, recommended her termination.