BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Nate McMurray, the Democratic candidate for New York's 27th Congressional district race, is suing his former employer Delaware North.
McMurray, who was hired by Buffalo-based Delaware North in 2014, told 7 Eyewitness News in February he was placed on "non-negotiable administrative unpaid leave" from his job as vice president of development.
Delaware North is owned by the family of Chris Jacobs, who is the Republican candidate for the 27th Congressional seat against McMurray.
The lawsuit alleges Delaware North violated the New York labor law "by retaliating against McMurray and wrongfully altering the terms of his employment due to McMurray’s political activities."
According to the lawsuit, Delaware North encouraged and supported McMurray's political campaigns for Grand island Town Supervisor and his previous run for congress against Chris Collins and he received positive performance reviews during that time.
"For the years 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, McMurray received positive performance reviews from Delaware North, all while running political campaigns and serving as an elected official," the lawsuit says.
In May 2019 Jacobs formally announced he was running for Congress in New York's 27th Congressional District and in August 2019 McMurray officially launched his campaign for Congress in the same district. The lawsuit states in October 2019 a Delaware North human resources employee allegedly held a meeting with McMurray "regarding his involvement in politics and how it may 'clash' with the involvement of Chris Jacobs in the race."
According to the lawsuit that meeting ended tensely and with no resolution.
McMurray had another meeting in October 2019 with Maureen Sweeny, Delaware North Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer, the lawsuit states it was an "urgent" meeting to discuss McMurray's “political disruptions,” although Sweeny allegedly wouldn't discuss any potential conflict with Jacobs.
According to the lawsuit Sweeny asserted "McMurray’s political activities could harm the company because of McMurray’s relationships with many of Delaware North’s customers."
The lawsuit states McMurray argued the company did not raise any of the issues during his previous political campaigns.
On February 5, 2020, days after a meeting with his supervisor and two Delaware North executives to discuss his participation in the special election against Jacobs for the NY-27 seat vacated by Chris Collins, McMurray was emailed materials for "Extraordinary Leave" from the company's human resources department, the lawsuit states.
According to the lawsuit his leave was scheduled to begin February 7, 2020 and end on April 28, 2020 and during a April 22, 2020 meeting McMurray was informed "he was transitioned from his extraordinary leave of absence to a temporary business disruption leave beginning May 1, 2020." McMurray was informed September 15, 2020 that his position was being eliminated.
In the lawsuit, it is alleged Delaware North maintained and operated a political action committee to financially support Jacobs against McMurray in the NY-27 special election, and employees who donated in support of Jacobs were not subjected to layoffs or business disruption leave.
Filed in Erie County Supreme Court, the lawsuit alleges Delaware North's actions against McMurray violate the New York labor law.
7 Eyewitness News has reached out to Delaware North for comment, we are waiting to hear back.