Peterborough Select Board to discuss Town Clerk conduct

  • Linda Guyette Courtesy photo

  • The Peterborough Town House Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 9/14/2020 7:49:05 PM

The Select Board will discuss the results of an independent investigation documenting Town Clerk Linda Guyette’s contributions to a hostile work environment, but it remains unclear what they have the authority to do, as the Town Clerk is an elected position.

“The Selectmen are going to have to make a decision on this,”  Deputy Town Administrator Nicole MacStay said, but said that, as she is not a legal counsel, she couldn’t speak to what the Select Board’s options would be, or whether they had the authority to remove the Town Clerk from office. The laws that concern a town elected official’s removal from office are “ambiguous at best,” she said.

New Hampshire’s RSA governing the office of Town Clerk essentially only allow removal for theft, gross negligence, or if the town clerk “has become insane or otherwise incapacitated.”

The town initiated the investigation of Guyette’s conduct because of its effect on a town employee and the public, MacStay said. The Deputy Town Clerk is a town employee, she said. Employers can be liable if they don’t make an effort to prevent a hostile work environment, according to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.

Although the Town Administrator’s office has conducted internal investigations after alleged staff misconduct in previous situations, Guyette’s conduct merited a third-party investigation because the Town Administrator himself was witness to one of the events, MacStay said. 

A lawyer for the New Hampshire Municipal Association would not comment on the extent of a Select Board’s power in such a situation, nor could confirm or deny that town officials had contacted the organization, which provides legal advice to municipalities. Peterborough’s town attorney did not respond to requests for comment, and representatives from the Secretary of State’s office and the office of the Attorney General said the situation was outside the realm of their legal expertise.

The next Select Board meeting is scheduled for Oct. 6.


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