Former employee sues city over mismanagement of water and sewer issues



By Stuart Foster, Contributing writer

Teams respond to a water pipe break on Donald Lynch Boulevard. May 11. A recent lawsuit against the town of Marlborough made a number of allegations regarding alleged mismanagement of the town’s water and sewer infrastructure.
(Photo / Dakota Antelman)

MARLBOROUGH – A former water and sewer general foreman who is currently suing the town of Marlborough, recently said he believed the issues he raised with his superiors, including leaks, broken standpipes , the lack of water redundancy and the lack of staff at the water division could be to blame for a wave of ruptured water pipes in town.

This former foreman, Gerald Ouillette, also said in a statement to the Community Advocate that he believes Marlborough’s high rate of development has increased demand on the town’s water system, further contributing to current problems.

Department of Public Works (DPW) Deputy Operations Commissioner Christopher LaFreniere did not respond to a request for comment.

Trish Bernard, executive assistant in the Marlborough Mayor’s Office, declined to comment on an ongoing case.

Teams respond to a water pipe break on Donald Lynch Boulevard. May 11. A recent lawsuit against the town of Marlborough made a number of allegations regarding alleged mismanagement of the town’s water and sewer infrastructure.
(Photo / Dakota Antelman)

Marlborough had not responded to Ouilette’s complaint as of August 1, according to court records.

The case was filed in Massachusetts Superior Court. In addition to the town itself, he also appoints Mayor Arthur Vigeant, Deputy Commissioner of Public Works (DPW) Operations Christopher LaFreniere, former Marlborough Public Works Commissioner John Ghiloni and former Director of Marlborough Human Resources Lynn Davine as accused.

“As the city’s main operator, it was my job to help identify and resolve issues with the Marlborough Water Division,” Ouilette said. “It was my job to speak up. While it is unfortunate that the city has taken the steps it has taken in response to the concerns I have raised, I hope this will shed light on an issue that genuinely concerns the public. “

The Marlborough Public Works Department is headquartered at 135 Neil Street.  DPW Deputy Public Services Commissioner Christopher LaFreniere is named alongside former DPW Commissioner John Ghiloni as a defendant in a recent lawsuit filed by a former employee.
The Marlborough Public Works Department is headquartered at 135 Neil Street. DPW Deputy Public Services Commissioner Christopher LaFreniere is named alongside former DPW Commissioner John Ghiloni as a defendant in a recent lawsuit filed by a former employee.
(Photo / Dakota Antelman)

The complaint alleges that Ouillette was repeatedly harassed and intimidated by her superiors, unpaid after working weekends and after hours, suspended in retaliation and ultimately fired for insubordination. This, according to the complaint, happened after Ouillette raised concerns about the state of Marlborough’s water supply and the understaffing of the DPW’s water division in Ghiloni.

The case argues that Ouillette’s shares were protected under the Massachusetts Public Employees Whistleblower Act.

The documents also allege that LaFrenière ordered Ouillette to take action that could have endangered the city’s water supply, including ordering her to repair a fire hydrant on a day when a thunderstorm could have exposed a water main. to potential runoff and contamination.

The city disputed this in a letter informing Ouilette of its dismissal hearing.

“The thunderstorms were not to arrive until the afternoon and there was no valid reason not to send the crew to repair the hydrants,” said the letter, written by Davine. “You have been advised that if a thunderstorm occurs, staff may stop work and seek shelter. “

Teams respond to a water pipe break on Donald Lynch Boulevard. May 11. A recent lawsuit against the town of Marlborough made a number of allegations regarding alleged mismanagement of the town’s water and sewer infrastructure.
(Photo / Dakota Antelman)

Meanwhile, Ouillette’s complaint further accuses Vigeant of participating in an alleged fabrication of a story that Ouillette was smoking or vaping at the site of a gas leak as a pretext to take action against him.

Ouillette’s complaint continues for 38 pages, detailing a number of additional incidents of alleged harassment, mismanagement and retaliation that Ouillette said he experienced while working for the town of Marlborough.

“Ouillette said the stress caused by the events described in the complaint” has changed [him] as a person, ”Rodden wrote. “He developed significant symptoms of emotional distress, including a sleep disorder and an eating disorder. He would come home every night so stressed that he fell asleep almost immediately. Her twenty-five year marriage has ended.

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