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Montville fires WPCA employee

By Jeffrey A. Johnson

Publication: theday.com

Published June 06. 2012 7:00PM   Updated June 07. 2012 6:42PM
Two workplace accidents cited; worker plans suit

Montville — A Water Pollution Control Authority employee who was fired by the town Wednesday called his termination politically motivated and said he intends to file a lawsuit against the town.

Tom McNally, an assistant superintendent of the WPCA, was fired after being placed on paid administrative leave in January.

McNally was put on leave so the town could investigate his role in two workplace accidents that occurred last year, on Dec. 23 and Dec. 28.

In a prepared statement, Jacques Parenteau, McNally’s attorney, said his client was unjustly terminated and a lawsuit would focus on the violation of his First Amendment rights to engage in political activity. McNally is chairman of the Republican Town Committee and sits on the Board of Education and several other town commissions.

Parenteau in his statement said that Mayor Ronald K. McDaniel Jr. conducted a biased investigation into the two accidents and created cause to remove McNally from his job because of his political affiliation. McNally in an email Wednesday denied any wrongdoing in both accidents.

“They do not have just cause. Their case is weak at best, and we will prove this is politically motivated,” he said.

McDaniel, a Democrat, was elected in November. Five of the seven members elected to the Town Council are also Democrats. McDaniel confirmed McNally’s firing Wednesday but declined further comment because of the anticipated lawsuit.

Workers’ compensation documents that The Day obtained through a Freedom of Information request show that an unidentified worker sustained unspecified injuries in the first workplace accident. A valve at the Avery Road pump station burst and covered the worker in raw sewage, the documents said.

In the second incident, an unidentified worker sustained unspecified injuries when a water valve burst near Haughton Cove Manor. The worker alleged that McNally was not manning a vac valve while a plumber was working on the issue, according to that employee’s report of the incident.

To protect their privacy, both workers’ names and injuries had been redacted from the documents The Day obtained. The town attorney also prepared a report that investigated both incidents and McNally’s involvement. The Day has requested a copy.

McNally, an 11-year employee of the town, wrote in an email to WPCA Chairman Timothy May dated Dec. 28 that two WPCA employees had done everything in their power to undermine his authority. The names were redacted by the town in the email obtained by The Day.

McNally wrote that he feared one worker’s “slanted narrative” of the Avery Road incident would depict events to suggest he had done something wrong. McNally in the email also detailed instances in which he alleged WPCA workers dumped their trash in department Dumpsters and ignored his requests to wear the proper work boots. McNally was the WPCA’s safety officer.

Other emails also showed that McNally raised concerns about excess hours that he worked past his 40 hours per week. He sent one email to WPCA Administrator Brian Lynch Dec. 23 asking for a way to recoup the time.

Town records show that McNally signed a contract in September 2009 that paid him $68,500 per year. He was scheduled to receive a 3 percent raise in June 2010. The contract was extended to June 2013.

jeff.johnson@theday.com

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