Sides exchange answers in ageism complaint

  • 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)

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, August 02, 2017 11:11PM

Legal representation on both sides of a case involving the termination of a former Jaffrey Public Library continue to argue the merits of a recently filed court petition.

Both Kelly Dowd (representing the town of Jaffrey and the Jaffrey Public Library) and Heather M. Burns (representing Marilyn Simons) have filed a document with the Cheshire Superior Court in the past week, further bolstering their arguments ahead of a ruling of a judge on Burns’ petition, which asks the court to revisit the library trustee’s decision to fire Simons.

“Despite the Petitioner’s legal conclusion that the determination was based on ‘age discrimination’ on the face of the Petitioner’s complaint, there are no well pled factual allegations that would permit a rational person to make a finding of ‘age discrimination,’” read Dowd’s document, filed on July 28.

In the June 30 petition, Burns argues that her client had been unlawfully fired from the library, where she had worked over 40 years. Age discrimination, violation of due process, and an unlawful non-public meeting were also mentioned.

“Ms. Simons alleges that the Trustees did not have good cause to terminate her,” read Burns’ document, filed on July 27. “Ms. Simons alleges that the real reason for her termination was age discrimination.”

Burns, in a document filed July 27, adds that RSA 202-A:17 was also violated in Simons’ firing, as she wasn’t given an opportunity to have a public hearing held prior to the trustee’s original decision to fire her, which was during a non-public meeting on May 30, and that she was not terminated for good cause.

In his response, Dowd said that Burns present a “novel, if incoherent and selective” interpretation of the RSA, adding that the trustees acted in accordance with state law.

A six-plus hour long public hearing was held on June 26, which is where the trustees voted to fire Simons for the second time.

The trustees listed a number of reasons to fire Simons, including but not limited to: failure to improve performance, insubordination, poor customer service, inability to follow procedure, and inefficiency of duties.

During the hearing, Simons admitted to being upset that she was passed up in the most recent library director search. Trustees said she was never considered, as she didn’t have the appropriate college degree for the position.

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