Age discrimination alleged in court filing

  • Marilyn Simons

  • The Jaffrey Public Library Trustees unanimously voted to terminate Marilyn Simons employment after a public hearing on Monday that lasted over six hours. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript)

  • The Jaffrey Public Library Trustees voted to terminate Marilyn Simons’ employment after a public hearing June 26. On June 30, Simons filed documents alleging age discrimination with the Cheshire Superior Court. STAFF PHOTO BY NICHOLAS HANDY

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The attorney of a former Jaffrey Public Library employee has filed a document with the Cheshire Superior Court seeking judicial review of her client’s termination. 

In a petition for writ of certiorari dated June 30, Heather Burns of Upton and Hatfield, LLP, argues that her client Marilyn Simons was unlawfully terminated, discriminated against because of her age, that library trustees violated Simons’ due process, and that an unlawful non-public meeting was held.

“Simons repeatedly requested information regarding the non-public session and the reasons for her termination, both before and after the June 26th hearing. Simons requests were denied,” reads the petition. “The reasons given by the Trustees for the termination of Simons’s employment are pretextual, and the real reason is age discrimination.”

The petition is requesting two things, that the court issue a writ of certiorari – which asks the court to revisit the decision made by the library trustees – and that the court grant “further just and equitable relief” to Simons.

Claims are made about age discrimination, an illegal non-public meeting, unlawful termination, and a violation of due process, but there is no evidence in the just-over-two-page petition that supports those claims. 

Simons was originally fired by the library trustees on May 30, after a non-public meeting. Simons requested a public hearing in accordance with RSA 202-A:17 after she was issued a notice of termination. 

The notice cited a number of reasons to fire Simons, included but not limited to: failure to improve performance, insubordination, poor customer service, inability to follow procedure, and inefficiency of duties, which stated her firing was to be effective June 22. 

The six-plus hour public hearing was held on June 26, with approximately 60 people in attendance to start the hearing, many who would later speak in favor of Simons. At the end of the meeting, the trustees once again voted to fire Simons. 

Kelly Dowd, legal counsel for the town of Jaffrey, said in a phone interview Tuesday night that he had seen a copy of the petition but the town or the library had not formally been served at that time. Dowd said that after being served, he will craft and then file a response, with the hope that the lawsuit will be thrown out by the court. 

“If they were to win, I think it would go back to a public hearing,” said Dowd. 

Burns’ legal assistant Mickey R. Snow returned a message from the Ledger-Transcript to Burns on Thursday afternoon, saying Burns would be unavailable to comment by the Ledger-Transcript’s press deadline. 

Simons, a library assistant, had been the library’s longest-tenured employee, serving for over 40 years.

During the public hearing, Simons admitted to being upset that the library passed her up during the most recent search for a library director, a decision trustees said was made because she didn’t have the appropriate college degree for the post.

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.