Investigation finds Peterborough Town Clerk acted “hostile,” was “cavalier” about COVID-19 guidelines

  • The Peterborough Town House Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • Linda Guyette Courtesy photo

  • Linda Guyette Courtesy photo—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 9/7/2020 5:48:23 PM

The Peterborough town administrator’s office recently completed a third party investigation of claims that Town Clerk Linda Guyette was creating a hostile work environment within the town office.

The report concluded Guyette was hostile and abusive to other town hall employees, delayed or refused implementation of COVID-19 safety measures,  potentially exposed other employees to COVID-19 after her own positive test and failed to train the deputy town clerk to do her job in her absence.  

The investigation was launched after an incident on July 15, during which the complainant and Bartlett reported that Guyette was yelling and using extreme profanity towards an employee to the extent that others in the building alerted Bartlett, and Guyette yelled and swore at him when he arrived.

The complainant is unnamed in the report, but said she “is exhausted from constant berating and harassment” by Ms. Guyette and has sought medical treatment for the anxiety she suffered in an allegedly hostile and abusive work environment, according to the report.

Since the start of the investigation, Bartlett has changed the complainant’s work hours to avoid interaction alone with the town clerk.

The report also concluded that Guyette displayed “a cavalier attitude towards protecting herself, the public, and town staff from exposure to COVID-19.” Guyette closed the Town Clerk’s office in June after testing positive for COVID-19. She and both her parents tested positive but all were asymptomatic. After testing positive on June 9, Guyette entered the town offices and spent several minutes in the meeting room during a Select Board meeting with people who were unaware of her positive test, the report states. Guyette was ordered by Town Administrator Bartlett and Fire Chief Ed Walker to self-quarantine and produce a negative COVID-19 test before returning to work.

The report also alleges that the Department of Health and Human Services reported a complaint to Peterborough Police Chief Scott Guinard claiming that Guyette made an “implied threat of violence” against Bartlett.   

The report also concluded that Guyette failed to adequately train the deputy town clerk to perform tasks like e-registration and did not appoint the deputy town clerk to allow her to attend town business meetings. It also found that other training programs were declined by the complainant due to Guyette not wearing a mask in the office. 

The report concluded that four of the five formal complaints were substantiated. The fifth, which alleged Guyette exhibited “rude, condescending, and petty behavior toward town residents,” was corroborated by several witness statements as well as informal verbal complaints from residents, but as there were no formal written complaints, the investigation was deemed inconclusive. 

Guyette denied all the allegations, save for admitting to the most recent “yelling” allegation, entering the town offices on June 9, and failing to train the deputy town clerk properly on certain procedures. 

The town was invoiced $3,530 by the Leddy Group to complete the investigation.

Municipalities have little legal recourse to remove a town clerk from office, as they are elected officials; New Hampshire’s RSA governing that office essentially only allow removal for theft, gross negligence, or if the town clerk “has become insane or otherwise incapacitated.”

Guyette has served as Town Clerk since 2009 and was previously the deputy town clerk from 2004 to 2008. Her current term ends in 2021. Her annual salary as town clerk is about $69,000.

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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Peterborough, NH 03458


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