Friday, December 09, 2022

GOP Senate candidate once named female subordinate ‘pork chop’, says lawsuit

In the crowded primary race to challenge Maggie Hassan (DN.H.) for her Senate seat, Republican Kevin Smith argues that his decade as the town manager of Londonderry is what sets him apart.

But Smith allegedly dismissed and abused repeated complaints of workplace harassment and retaliation while taking on that role, and the town eventually settled a related lawsuit at public expense, HuffPost has learned.

Smith runs in an 11-way Republican primary with no clear forerunner, but he is near the front of the pack. In the first quarter of the year, his campaign has only Senate President Chuck Morse’s in the amount of cash on hand and fundraiser.

Whoever triumphs will challenge Hassan, whose seat is a must-win for Democrats hoping to retain their fragile majority of 50 seats in the Senate. Hassan is considered one of their most vulnerable members. In 2016, she joined the Republican sen. Kelly Ayotte withdraws through the chair net 1,017 votesand her current approval rating moves below 50%.

Smith’s alleged role in the handling of the charge of harassment and retaliation has not been previously reported.

In 2018, Nicole Doolan, who worked for the town of Londonderry for nine years as an administrative assistant, sued the town and her former manager, who accuses them of disability discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation. Doolan said in her lawsuit that the harassment started after she complained to her union that her boss – the city tax assessor – had her personal messages done, and she said it had escalated for several years. Smith, who served as Londonderry’s town manager from 2013 to January 2022, eventually became involved in covering those who harassed her, Doolan claimed.

Smith himself made derogatory remarks about women in the workplace, Doolan claimed, such as making “stupid blonde jokes” and referring to a female subordinate as “pig chop.”

Doolan’s case sets out several allegations against her former boss, Karen Marchant, and Marchant’s deputy, Rick Brideau. While Doolan was on disability leave, she claimed, a village official threatened to eliminate her job. When Doolan returned, there was a video camera aimed at her desk with a supply and sound playing in Marchant’s office, ostensibly to monitor people entering the office. Brideau also used the video feed, she said, to see if members of the public who needed tax assessor services looked nice and decided whether to get up from his desk and help.

Doolan said Brideau on several occasions jerked at her, made disgraceful remarks about how other women dressed in the office, and watched video of girls undressing on his work computer. When Doolan complained to Marchant about the video, she said, Marchant told Brideau to tilt his computer monitor so others could not see.

According to the lawsuit, Doolan repeatedly complained to Smith and in late 2014, he established a mediation with Doolan, Marchant and Brideau. Smith discouraged Doolan from bringing in a union representative, claimed her lawsuit, although she was entitled to do so, and said he believed the representative would intimidate her bosses. Smith met with Doolan three more times, she said, and each time told her not to bring a representative. She said he pressured her to take a job in another department instead of taking action against her bosses.

For much of this time, Doolan alleged, Marchant, Smith, and other employees of the village government sided with her requests to increase her hours or become a full-time employee, while other part-time employees were allowed up to 40 hours. work.

Eventually, she said, Smith also took actions that she said were retaliatory. In 2016, after she complained to him that she was being assigned more work than was possible in her 28-hour week and working off the clock without additional payment, Smith told her she was “disrespectful” and told her ‘ given an official warning. She resigned a month later.

Doolan filed her case in June 2018, settling Doolan and the City of Londonderry in September 2020 for an unknown amount of money.

In his initial response to Doolan’s lawsuit, before the settlement, Londonderry admitted that Doolan had complained to Smith about Brideau’s immoral behavior. But the town denied that Brideau had acted inappropriately or that Marchant had failed to intervene. Smith did offer Doolan a job in another department, the town said, but it denied that he had told her not to bring a union representative to any meetings.

Doolan did complain that Smith called a subordinate “pig chop” and made stupid blonde jokes, the town said, but it called her allegations “unfounded”. Her co-workers who were allowed to work extra hours cover for staff shortages, the town said, and cutting Doolan’s hours was budgetary, not discriminatory. The town also conceded there was a video camera aimed at her desk to monitor members of the public.

Seb Rougemont, a spokesman for Smith’s Senate campaign, called Doolan’s claims “downright false.” Smith managed more than 200 employees, Rougemont added, and made his staff file available to the public.

“As city manager, Kevin has always put what was in the best interests of the people of Londonderry first,” Rougemont said in a statement. “Doolan was disciplined for insubordination towards her supervisor. It made her resign. “The allegations made by a dissatisfied former employee about Kevin Smith in this lawsuit are completely unfounded and unconfirmed.”

Doolan, her attorney and the attorney representing Londonderry did not all respond to requests for interviews, and Marchant could not be reached for comment. Brideau died in 2021. Londonderry City Council chairman John Farrell declined to comment.

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