SEABROOK – A former Secretary of the Planning Council who sued city officials for sexual harassment has struck a deal with the city.
Maria Brown, who worked as secretary from 2015 to 2018, recently filed court documents dismissing her federal lawsuit with “prejudice and at no cost” against then-Planning Council chairman Jason Janvrin, vice chairman of the Then-planning council Mike Rabideau and CEO Bill Manzi. .
Manzi said the decision to settle the case was made by the city’s insurance company, Primax.
He said a financial settlement had been paid by the insurance company. However, he said he would not release details of the settlement until he asks the city attorney if the document is public. Seacoast Media Group has filed a Right-to-Know application with the Town of Seabrook for a copy of the settlement.
Brown did not comment on the lawsuit, making appeals to his lawyer Benjamin King, of Douglas Leonard & Garvey. King confirmed that the matter was “resolved”.
Brown sued the city in 2019, claiming her secretary contract was not renewed in 2018 because she complained about Janvrin’s sexual harassment, which she claims Manzi and Rabideau did not nothing done.
Her lawsuit alleged that Janvrin, who at the time was a state representative, made pejorative references to city workers and chosen women, using terms such as “bitch” and “bitch” in the planning office. . She also alleged that Janvrin retaliated against her by destroying the decorations on her office and at one point she started leaving “her dirty and dirty clothes” in her office which reeked of “body odor, feces. and stale cigarettes “.
The city denied the charges in its response to Brown’s trial.
The city claimed Brown’s contract with the city expired on March 31, 2018 and the decision not to renew it was for “legitimate and non-discriminatory reasons.” They noted that Brown “was often disturbed, upset, complained, and generally did not work well with other city employees.”
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Janvrin denied Brown’s claims that he made derogatory references to female employees. Manzi and Rabideau also denied Brown’s claims that she regularly complained about Janvrin’s behavior and they did nothing.
The only complaint she filed, according to their response, concerned Manzi about “the disruptive communication on Facebook between Ms. Brown and other city employees.” Manzi considered the matter “and ordered all parties, including Ms Brown, to stop”.
The city, however, admitted Brown’s claim that no formal sexual harassment training was provided to city employees between October 2015 and March 2018.
Manzi said the city had held mandatory sexual harassment training for all city employees in 2020. He said the decision to hold the training had nothing to do with the trial.
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Manzi said the town’s insurance company covered the town’s attorney’s fees as well as the settlement, citing that no taxpayer money was used. Although the city is paying for the insurance coverage, he doesn’t think the city’s premium will increase as a result of the settlement with Brown.
“Obviously the more claims you have, the higher your premium is,” Manzi said. “But in this case, I do not anticipate any change because of the matter.”
Manzi said that in general, insurance companies would prefer to settle the case if the cost is much less than taking the case to court. When asked if the regulations in cases like this where the city has denied the allegations would lead to further prosecution, Manzi said, “The system is what the system is.
“Not with respect to this case, but in general, when the cost of the lawsuit is higher than a potential settlement, the insurer will decide what is in its best financial interest,” Manzi said. “If the cost of the lawsuit is $ 400,000 and the cost of the settlement is $ 50,000, which one do you think the insurer is going to take?” “
Before filing the lawsuit, Brown filed charges of discrimination with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the New Hampshire Human Rights Commission. The EEOC closed its file on the case after Brown decided to pursue his claim in other forums.