Hostile environment alleged in town’s Planning Dept.

Dec 1, 2017 by

Posted on: Friday, December 1, 2017

By DAN TOMASELLO

LYNNFIELD — Retired Planning and Land Use Assistant Kathy Randele has filed a complaint against former Planning Board co-chairmen John Faria and Alan Dresios for allegedly creating a hostile work environment.

The Villager learned about the complaint following Faria’s resignation from the board on Nov. 29.

“Giving due consideration to the present time demands of my profession weighed against the anticipated time demands of serving on the Planning Board, I do not feel that I can conscientiously serve both obligations,” said Faria in his resignation letter sent to the Board of Selectmen. “Consequently, I hereby tender my resignation as a member of the Lynnfield Planning Board.”

Faria’s resignation came the day after the selectmen and Planning Board voted 5-2 in a joint between between the two boards to appoint Hart Road resident Scott Gromko to the Planning Board to serve the remaining five months of former Planning Board co-Chairwoman Heather Sievers’ term. Sievers resigned from the board last month.

Selectmen Chairman Chris Barrett, Selectman Phil Crawford, Selectman Dick Dalton, and Planning Board members Brian Charville and Michael Sheehan voted to appoint Gromko. Faria and Planning Board member Charlie Wills voted to appoint Dresios, who stepped down from the board last April.

During the 20 minute discussion, Faria said “I would find it very difficult to function without the assistance” of Dresios.

“Without Alan, this board would have been far less effective,” said Faria.

Complaint filed

In the wake of Faria’s resignation and Dresios’ attempt to rejoin the board being nixed, the Villager obtained a copy of a complaint filed by Randele with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) in May.

Randele claims in the complaint she was discriminated against by the town on the basis of her age and gender. She worked for the town from July 1989 until her retirement in September.

“Throughout my employment with the (town), I have received strong evaluations and praise from supervisors,” said Randele. “Despite that strong performance, in recent years, I have increasingly found myself marginalized and my job responsibilities taken over by male members of the Planning Board. Since at least 2012, I have endured a hostile work environment that has been created by the co-chairmen of the Planning Board, John Faria and Alan Dresios, through marginalization, unjust criticism, and treating me in a hostile and demeaning manner.”

Randele alleged she was “routinely shouted at, spoken to in (a) condescending manner, told not to speak or simply ignored” when she attempted to speak to either Faria or Dresios.

“Mr. Faria and Mr. Dresios consistently refer to me using offensive and demeaning language,” said Randele.

Randele claimed Faria referred to her as his “secretary,” and implied Randele was “not able to perform anything more than menial clerical tasks.” She said she is “more familiar with the planning and zoning process than either male co-chair.”

Randele noted her title was changed to planning and land use assistant in 2015 in the wake of a new contract being established between the municipal workers union and the town.

“When Mr. Faria learned of the title change, he demanded that my title be changed back to ‘department secretary,’” said Randele.

Randele said Faria continued referring to her as secretary during public meetings “in his attempt to publicly humiliate me.”

“Mr. Faria has also made derogatory comments about me and my position to me directly, in public meetings and meetings of the Planning Board, to people in other departments during the workday, and to the town administrator,” said Randele.

Randele alleged Dresios was equally hostile.

“In April 2016, Mr. Dresios stopped interacting with me at all after I sent an email informing about the proper procedure on amending warrant articles for submission to the Board of Selectmen,” said Randele. “I believe he decided to stop speaking to me because he becomes extremely upset when I inform him of the correct procedure or do not agree with him.”

The retired Planning and Land Use assistant said Faria and Dresios ignored her presence at public meetings. She alleged the former Planning Board co-chairmen told her not to speak at meetings.

Randele claims the town allowed Faria and Dresios to “circumvent me or exclude me from substantive planning and zoning projects, which leaves me unable to perform all of my job functions.”

“As an example, Mr. Dresios routinely posts public notices concerning Planning Board activities or amends public notices of the Planning Board’s agenda without notifying me,” said Randele. “The publication of notices and amending public notices is one of my specific job functions. As a result, I am routinely subjected to criticism from other town employees and members of the public because I am unable to answer questions about Planning Board actions or activities.”

Randele claimed she notified Town Administrator Jim Boudreau “about the treatment that I am subjected on at least a weekly, if not daily, basis.”

“To my knowledge, nothing was done to investigate or address my complaints,” said Randele. “I even filed a grievance with my union representative, who addressed the issue with the Mr. Boudreau and the Board of Selectmen. (The town) did nothing in response to my grievance.”

Randele also said the town, “acting through Mr. Faria and Mr. Dresios, scheduled meetings to address Planning Board issues when they knew I would be unavailable.” She claimed Faria and Dresios took over her responsibilities and/or assigned them to someone else.

“This is part of the concerted plan to increasingly marginalize me, prevent my continued involvement with solutions for the department, and deny me a role in the discussions about the department,” said Randele. “I fully believe that Mr. Dresios and Mr. Faria are engaged in a concerted effort to marginalize me because I am a woman and because of my age to a point where I will quit my job.

“Having marginalized me, deprived me of opportunities for professional growth, shut me out of the planning and land use process, publicly humiliated me in public hearings and meetings, and stripped me of my job responsibilities, the (town) has caused me significant emotional distress,” Randele continued. “If the (town) had not engaged in discriminatory behavior against me, excluded me, diminished my role and undermined me, I would have remained an integral part of the Planning department, just as I had been for the first 20 years of my employment.”

Randele said the town’s “refusal to take any action despite repeated reports of harassment and hostile work environment demonstrates the (town is) condoning these unlawful actions.”

During Randele’s retirement party on Nov. 2, she told the Villager, “I am relaxed and there is no more stress.”

“I sleep at night now, which is really good,” said Randele.

Reaction

In a phone interview with the Villager, Faria said “I haven’t seen the complaint.”

Dresios told the Villager in a phone interview, “I haven’t been informed about it and I know nothing about it.”

“I heard a rumor there was going to be a court case before I left the board,” added Dresios.

Chris Barrett emailed the Villager the following statement about the complaint.

“As a matter of policy, the Board of Selectmen does not discuss pending litigation, but we are aware of this matter facing the town of Lynnfield,” said Barrett.

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