County commissioner files sexual discrimination suit

Caitlin Restelli

Portage County commissioner Tommie Jo Marsilio filed a sexual discrimination lawsuit in federal court Monday against her former employer Victor Vigluicci, the Portage County prosecutor.

Marsilio is asking for back pay, general compensatory damages and punitive damages.

“I think it’s a frivolous attempt to collect money from the county, which already employs the plaintiff,” Vigluicci said.

According to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Akron, Marsilio claimed she was paid less than male employees for the same or similar work and responsibilities. She also claimed male colleagues committed similar acts as the ones she was fired for, but got to maintain their positions.

Vigluicci said her claims of discrimination and wrongful termination are incorrect.

“She wasn’t fired,” he said. “Her leaving the prosecutor’s office had nothing to do with any sex discrimination or gender. It had everything to do with her failure to meet the ethical standards of the office.”

In 2009 Marsilio was a republican candidate for the office of Portage County Municipal Judge and distributed a proposed advertisement to some of her campaign members and the Republican Central Committee for input.

Vigluicci, a democrat, told the Record Courier it was a flier that was circulating at the county courthouse. The flier referred to a “Good Old Boys” club and stated Marsilio “is not a member of the Ravenna ‘Good Old Boys’ corruption club.” The ad was aimed at her opponent, Kevin Poland, who was the mayor of Ravenna at the time.

Vigluicci said the ad crossed the line of professional conduct. He said it was “a written allegation of corruption against a fellow attorney and elected public official.”

The ad made its way to Poland’s campaign committee and Vigluicci’s office. The prosecutor said he held a meeting with Marsilio asking her to stop all circulation of the advertisement and apologize to her opponent or he would fire her.

Marsilio claimed the advertisement was protected under the First Amendment.

Vigluicci said if she were to “fail to take both of these steps” by Sept. 18, 2009, her “employment at the Portage County Prosecutor’s Office will terminate” as of that date.

Marsilio did not abide by his directions and her employment was terminated Sept. 18, 2009.

Vigluicci said Marsilio’s fate was in her own hands.

“She had the opportunity to keep her employment by following the instructions, which were to withdraw the ad alleging corruption to a public official and issue a formal apology to that official.

“Nothing will come out of (the lawsuit),” Vigluicci said. “Except the county wasting money to defend it.”

Marsilio was unreachable to make a comment.


Caitlin Restelli at [email protected] .