Briefs: Former employees sue, Troy: stop work at VCC, RPI suspends P-cards, Handbook undergoes revisions

Former employees sue

Seven former RPI employees from among the 80 laid off in 2008 have filed a lawsuit against the Institute, claiming that they were fired because of their age. The suit claims that 83 percent of the employees laid off were over 40, while only 66 percent of those employed by RPI prior to the layoffs were that age.

The employees, according to the Times Union, will seek reinstatement of their jobs, back pay, seniority credit, and damages of an amount yet to be determined.

According to Vice President for Strategic Communications and External Relations William Walker, however, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission dismissed the claims. He added that he felt the employees were treated fairly and provided with a “very liberal” severance package.

“Rensselaer acted in good faith, objectively, and provided the affected staff with salary and benefits continuation, as well as career transition support,” said Vice President for Human Resources Curtis Powell.

Troy: stop work at VCC

The City of Troy has issued a stop-work order on the access roads on the south side of the Vorhees Computing Center. The order came because Fire Chief Tom Garrett does not believe that the grass pavers that line the concrete road are capable of safely supporting the weight of a fire truck.

“They’re asking us to put our firefighters 100 feet in the air on plastic egg crate blocks,” said Garrett. He has ordered firefighters not to offensively fight any fire that occurs in the VCC.

Vice President for Administration Claude Rounds disputes Garrett’s claims about the safety of the pavers—plastic grids filled with gravel and sand and topped with sod, placed atop a base that is capable of handling 80,000 pounds. According to Rounds, the pavers were tested a few weeks ago; a fire truck drove on the pavers and left a tire mark, but was stable. Rounds is “very confident” in the engineering of the pavers.

Additionally, the State of New York has inspected the area and cited RPI for some minimum class violations, including the existence of a dead end. RPI submitted an improvement plan approved by the state that included the use of grass pavers, which they were implementing before the stop-work order was put in place.

“I think that we presented a sound alternative [to the original access roads] in every respect,” said Rounds.

According to the City Engineer Russ Reeves, the stop-work order will be lifted when the area reaches Garrett’s approval. “I want to make sure he is satisfied with whatever system is selected. That is under his purview,” Reeves said.

RPI suspends P-cards

Following several allegations of theft, RPI cancelled faculty and staff credit cards without prior notice in early June. Faculty and staff were informed of the cancellation through an e-mail from Chief Financial Officer Virginia Gregg.

The suspension of the cards has led to some confusion and difficulty for those affected, who used the cards for everyday purchases and work-related travel. The Institute is reviewing the program during the summer and should have more details on how it will handle future purchasing in mid-August.

Handbook undergoes revisions

The Dean of Students Office, working with the Student Senate, has proposed changes to some sections of The Rensselaer Handbook of Rights and Responsibilities. The changes deal primarily with the Institute’s ability to address student misconduct off-campus, expanding RPI’s right to pursue disciplinary action in such circumstances.

The Senate is currently waiting on a response from the Institute counsel on the changes.

The exact changes that have been proposed to the Student Handbook can be viewed here.