Summary Judgment Granted for Town / No Wage Act or Civil Rights Violations Found


Attorney Courtney Mayo successfully obtained summary judgment in United States District Court, District of Massachusetts on behalf of a municipality and Town Administrator in an employment dispute filed by former Town Planning Director who alleged violations of Town bylaws, wage act, civil rights, defamation and civil conspiracy.

The former Town employee alleged that he was systematically ousted of his full-time position with the Town by the Town Administrator.  In support of his claim, the town employee alleged that the Administrator and Town improperly changed his pay and hours and harassed him, in part, by visiting his office unannounced to discuss policy, goals and budget concerns and by questioning the hours he worked.  Further, the plaintiff alleged that the Administrator defamed him when questioning the hours he worked.  Moreover, the plaintiff alleged that the Administrator’s personal handling of investigations into public complaints lodged against the plaintiff rather than the having the Planning Board do so was improper.  The plaintiff eventually elected to retire and alleged the continued harassment and antagonism by the Administrator as his reason for retirement.

Attorney Mayo filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on all but one count and outlined there was no basis for plaintiff’s complaints with respect to bylaw violations. Further, Attorney Mayo argued that the plaintiff was hired as an at-will, non-union employee and that the Town’s Personnel Bylaws did not give rise to any contractual obligations between the Town and non-union employees.

Further, Attorney Mayo argued that a temporary reduction in work hours did not constitute a Wage Act violation.  While the plaintiff’s hours were briefly reduced to 36 hours from 40 hours due to budget changes, the plaintiff’s hours were eventually restored and the plaintiff was, at all times, paid in full by the Town.  The plaintiff offered no supporting documentation for his claims that he was not paid COLA increases or additionally paid for hours worked beyond his scheduled hours.  As such, the Court determined defendants were entitled to summary judgment relative to any Wage Act violation claims.

Attorney Mayo further argued that when Town Administrator spoke about the plaintiff’s absences from work when he was expected to be at Town Hall and available to the public, that same statements did not constitute defamation.  Rather, the statements were privileged internal communications made in the workplace and in the interests of the Town and were within the scope of said privilege. The court agreed and granted summary judgment as to plaintiff’s claims of defamation.

Lastly, Attorney Mayo argued that there was insufficient evidence to support any claim for civil rights violations, due process violations, First or Fourteenth Amendment violations and further that no civil conspiracy existed.

United States Magistrate Judge David Hennessy agreed and issued a 42-page decision granting Summary Judgment for the defendant on all counts. Judge Hennessy additionally elected to dismiss the remaining count sua sponte rather than grant partial summary judgment.

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