EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — The Board of Selectmen will grant the town’s fired Public Works Department director a public grievance hearing next week, the board’s chairman said Tuesday.
The board opted to grant Daniel Violette and his attorney, his brother Richard Violette Jr., the hearing on June 11 “out of respect to the vagueness of [town] policy” and after legal consultation with the town’s attorney, Chairman Clint Linscott said.
“Regular employees are entitled to a grievance hearing,” Linscott said. “Danny’s attorney, even though he [Daniel Violette] is a department head, feels he should be allowed a grievance hearing.”
Selectmen have met several times to discuss the town’s issues with Violette. In one of the most recent meetings, on April 2, the board voted 5-0 against a motion to rehire Violette and place him on administrative leave pending the outcome of his grievance. With that, his attorney handed selectmen a letter saying he intended to sue the town for $1 million.
A lawsuit was filed on April 17 in Penobscot County Superior Court, a court clerk said Tuesday. Richard Violette did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
A statement Richard Violette provided selectmen said the town violated state law by releasing a letter to the news media detailing its case for firing his brother before Daniel Violette had a chance to file a grievance. Under state law, personnel information is private except for a written record of a final disciplinary action — and that cannot be released publicly until the grievance process is exhausted, Richard Violette said.
Daniel Violette, who has declined to comment on the matter since it began, was fired in mid-March after he was accused of misappropriating town funds and taking six granite curbstones and two plows from the department.
The termination set off accusations of lying and misrepresenting facts on both sides.
Richard Violette has said the alleged misappropriation was nothing more than his brother ill-advisedly misrepresenting a purchase on an invoice. He said that this was at best a lapse in judgment worthy of a written reprimand, not termination.
Linscott said that Daniel Violette, a town employee for 25 years, had repeatedly lied to cover up his actions. On Tuesday, Linscott said he welcomed the meeting next week so that residents could judge the matter for themselves.
The regular selectmen’s meeting starts at 4 p.m. Violette’s portion of it is at 5 p.m., the agenda states.