Country Club Denies Discrimination in Firing of Longtime Server

The Country Club of New Canaan last week denied claims that it had discriminated against a server who’d worked there for 30-plus years when it fired him last April. According to a lawsuit filed Feb. 28 in state Superior Court, the Country Club “discriminated against” Gerardo Ortiz “on account of his age,” subjecting him to “a pervasive and continuing course of discriminatory comments and conduct which had the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with Plaintiff’s work performance and/or the creation of an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.”

In an answer filed last Thursday, the Country Club denied that Ortiz had been an “exemplary employee,” that he was treated differently from younger counterparts on staff, that his hours were cut due to his age and that derogatory ageist comments were directed at him. The answer, filed on behalf of the Country Club by attorneys David Jimenez and Tristana Spence of Hartford-based Jackson Lewis P.C., also denies that due to the club’s “unlawful conduct,” Ortiz “sustained lost wages and benefits of employment, has been deprived of the benefits of gainful employment into the future, has sustained substantial emotional distress, and has incurred or will incur attorneys’ fees and costs.”

The lawsuit also asserts that Ortiz’s minor son “has a congenital heart defect” and in early-2022, Ortiz took an approximately 12-week leave “to attend necessary medical appointments and otherwise ensure that his son was cared for in connection with his heart condition.” The Country Club management “was aware of Plaintiff’s son’s heart condition and Plaintiff’s concomitant, occasional need to leave on an emergent basis for reasons associated with that condition,” the complaint said. The new assistant manager, Ben, “candidly conveyed to Plaintiff that he expected Plaintiff not to miss work, despite his knowledge of Plaintiff’s need to occasionally leave or miss work due to his son’s medical condition,” according to the suit. 

The Country Club in its answer “admits that in early 2022, Plaintiff requested medical leave pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act.”

Yet the club also “lacks knowledge sufficient to admit or deny the basis for such leave.” The club also “admits that Plaintiff requested and approved for intermittent medical leave” but “lacks knowledge sufficient to admit or deny” that Ortiz sometimes needed to leave work as a result. Identifying the manager in question as Ben Barragan, the Club admits that the manager required Ortiz to comply with its attendance policy, yet denies that Barragan knew Ortiz’s son’s condition would compel the server to miss work.

Former Employee Sues Country Club for Age Discrimination 

The Country Club of New Canaan discriminated against a server that had worked there for 30-plus years when it fired him last April, according to a lawsuit recently filed in state Superior Court. Gerardo Ortiz of Stamford had started at the Country Club in 1991 as a server and occasional bartender, according to a complaint filed Feb. 28 on his behalf by attorney Matthew D. Paradisi of Hartford-based Cicchello & Cicchiello LLP. Though he was “an exemplary employee, as evidenced by his more than three-decade-long employment history and a general lack of disciplinary action throughout his tenure,” the complaint said, staff members at the Country Club began to discriminate against him because of his age before firing him on April 16, 2023 (a Sunday). Starting around late-2022, Ortiz came under the supervision of a new assistant manager (identified only as “Ben”) and “began observing that he was starting to be treated disparately as compared with his younger, similarly situated servers,” according to the suit.

Did You Hear … ?


The bagels are back in town: Upper Crust Bakery & Café opens Thursday morning in the former Brueggers space on South Avenue downtown. ***

Currently, 843 people belong to Spencer’s Run, New Canaan’s dog park at Waveny, and slightly more than half of those are nonresidents, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Rona Siegel reported on Wednesday night during the commission’s regular meeting. ***

The Board of Selectmen by a 2-0 vote Tuesday approved a $938,000 contract with FGB Construction to repave and otherwise improve the following town roads (First Selectman Kevin Moynihan and Selectman Kit Devereaux cast votes, as Selectman Nick Williams was absent):

Huckleberry Road from Valley Road to the town line
Jonathan Road
Mill Road
Pepper Lane
Sagamore Trail
Siwanoy Lane
Summer Street from Lakeview to East Avenue and from Cross Street to Locust Avenue
Turning Mill Lane


The photo gallery above features the newest aerial photos of the sports fields and track at New Canaan High School. ***

Town officials broke ground with Eversource on Wednesday for the company’s $25 million natural gas project. It will start with the installation of 4.7 miles of underground pipeline, making the fuel available to more than 500 homes and businesses.

Country Club of New Canaan Seeks To Expand Clubhouse, Relocate Pool

Saying major projects are needed to update its facilities and meet the needs of its members, one of New Canaan’s oldest organizations is applying to rebuild and reconfigure various structures at its 153-acre property. The Country Club of New Canaan last week applied to the Planning & Zoning Commission to relocate its pool and rebuild a pool house as well as to reconfigure and expand its heavily used main clubhouse. CCNC’s membership will not increase as part of the project, which is designed to “retain the feel of a residential estate in the 4-acre zone,” according to the application, filed on behalf of the club by attorney Steve Finn of Stamford-based Wofsey, Rosen, Kweskin & Kuriansky. “The Club recognizes its civic responsibility to provide an appropriate architectural presence for the area,” according to the application. “The plans are consistent with the original mission: a ‘club in the country.’ The submitted design recalls many of the architectural aspects of the original clubhouse of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and is representative of southern New England architecture at the time.”

The project’s overall purpose is “to reconfigure the club facilities to better serve the membership,” according to a statement that accompanies the club’s Special Permit application, and “the functioning of many aspects of the club will be upgraded and enhanced, and circulation by members to the various facilities will be improved.”

“One of the major features of the proposed project is the relocation of the pool to the east, closer to Smith Ridge Road.

Eversource: New Canaan Residents Can Influence Natural Gas Expansion Plan In Out Years

Following an initial roll-out of natural gas in New Canaan through 2020—a three-phase project starting next year that will see a trunk line come into town from Stamford, up South Avenue to the business district and then out to East School, with nearby residences along the way—property owners themselves can influence just where the utility brings natural gas, officials say. For Eversource—at least through 2024, under a state-backed expansion plan—the question of where in New Canaan the gas lines will go is in some ways a math equation, according to John Ferrelli, the company’s Waterbury-based supervisor of business account services: The cost of installation must be offset by the load delivered. “Customer demand will dictate the path of opportunity beyond the initial outline, as well as new construction and conversions,” Ferrelli told members of the Town Council at their regular meeting. “Future growth potential will be driven by customer interest, customer demand,” Ferrelli said at the July 19 meeting, held at Town Hall. “And that’s where the company will look to expand [starting in 2020].