Hurley highway superintendent Mike Shultis has been formally reprimanded by the town board for “discriminatory remarks” against a female town employee under his jurisdiction. Shultis, who was elected in 2018, acknowledged that a verbal exchange took place between him and the claimant but that his “intention was not offensive.” He said his apology was accepted.
The claimant, who said she complained to the town board on Jan. 14 after the incident at the highway department, disputed the superintendent’s statement that she had accepted his apology. “Certainly not,” she said. “It was highly insulting and then he said it again. In my entire life I have never had anyone speak to me like that.”
Upon direction by the town board, the parties were separately interviewed by town attorney Michael Jankowski who recommended the action unanimously taken by the board at a regular meeting on Feb. 18.
At her request, the claimant’s name was not revealed in the resolution nor in a Feb. 20 “complaint against town of Hurley superintendent Michael Shultis” letter to Schutis signed by town supervisor John Perry on behalf of the town board.
The Perry letter speaks to violations of town law which “prohibits any form of discrimination, harassment, or other offensive behavior towards (anybody).”
Perry acknowledged in the letter that the town board has no authority over the highway superintendent, a separately-elected official, and can only recommend actions regarding his behavior. The letter also notes that if a town employee had committed such a “serious” offense, he or she could be subject to dismissal.
The board did recommend that Shultis undergo “sensitivity training,” a suggestion he has rejected.
Shultis, currently town Democratic chairman, and the first Democrat elected highway superintendent in recent memory (he served a term as supervisor in 2006-07), called the Republican-dominated board’s action “just politics.” Perry, a first-term Republican, denied that was the case.
Shultis said he plans to run for a second term in November, as does Perry. Republicans are expected to nominate Gavin Bellows, son of former supervisor Gary Bellows.