AYER -- Ayer Treasurer Stephanie Gintner has filed an appeal of the July 16 nonbinding censure vote of the Board of Selectmen. On a split 3-2 vote, selectmen alleged that Gintner breached the town's email policy.
Gintner's attorney, Daniel Gelb, wrote in his Aug. 8 letter of formal appeal filed with selectmen that the board "failed to adhere to the workplace dispute resolution procedures" timeline and processes outlined in the personnel policy.
Gelb claims: The selectmen failed to follow the proper workplace dispute resolution procedures as per the Personnel Policy; the findings of fact were "unfairly prejudicial to Treasurer Gintner" and improperly adopted; the selectmen's censure letter is libelous and "publishes defamatory statements in total disregard for their truth or falsity," especially in light of the fact that selectmen blocked accesses to independent expert computer analysis of Doig's computer to determine if any emails were deleted; disparate treatment of and intentional interference with Gintner as manager of her department, especially in light of different treatment "from her male predecessor." (Gintner succeeded Denis Callahan in the treasurer's post.); there's no expectation of privacy in town email accounts, and that access to email accounts is permitted per town email policy; Chairman Jim Fay engaged in improper ex parte communication with Doig's legal counsel and refused to disclose the content of the discussion; Town Accountant Lisa Gabree
Nashoba Publishing asked Town Administrator Robert Pontbriand on Tuesday what steps, if any, the town would take to address Gintner's appeal. The workplace dispute resolution procedures included in the personnel policy which Gelb referenced in his appeal discusses how appeals are to be handled.
The policy states the employee should first discuss their complaints with their "supervisor" and then if necessary with their department head. As Gintner is popularly elected, its unclear if the next step is to appeal to the Personnel Board, which must render a decision within 30 days of receipt of the matter.
The policy states that employees are "encouraged to bring any problems or complaints to their respective supervisor or appointing authority regarding work or other day-to-day relations with the town." The policy also states employees shall be free to follow the problem resolution procedure "with freedom from reprisal."
The policy warns, however, that the procedure "does not confer the right upon anyone to make slanderous or libelous statements, or to take any other actions otherwise prohibited by law." Gelb has stated selectmen's censure letter "is libelous per se and publishes defamatory statements in total disregard for their truth or falsity."
The problem resolution procedure states further satisfaction can be sought from the the Personnel Board, which much render its decision within 30 days of receipt.
If either party finds the Personnel Board's decision to be "unsatisfactory," a final appeal may be made to a five-member appeals board. The membership is drawn via lottery and can have representatives from any of these entities, as long as no conflict exists due to the underlying complaint: the police chief, the fire chief, the DPW superintendent, the town administrator, the treasurer, the town clerk, a member of the Board of Assessors, the town accountant, the economic development director, a member of the Board of Parks Commissioners, a member of the Planning Board, a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, a member of the Board of Health, and/or a member of the Conservation Commission.