Local Government and Politics, News

Former town administrator sued Nahant, selectmen before he resigned

Former Nahant Town Administrator Jeff Chelgren. (File photo)

More than two months before parting ways with Nahant on March 2, former Town Administrator Jeffrey Chelgren filed a lawsuit against the town with several explosive charges, including discrimination and breach of contract.

The reason for Chelgren being placed on administrative leave and subsequently resigning from the town’s top position has not been made public. Less has been said about the suit, which was dismissed late Thursday afternoon, except for Board of Selectmen chairman Enzo Barile denying the accusations.

Chelgren’s suit, filed at the beginning of the year, made 11 charges, including employment discrimination based on several factors, including threats and intimidation; a hostile work environment; retaliation; and his sexual orientation.

He also alleged the town and Board of Selectmen breached an employment contract, violated the Nahant Town Administrator Act, and intentionally inflicted emotional distress, among other charges.

Chelgren alleged that Barile pressured him to support making the town clerk position full time, with an accompanying pay raise. Barile’s wife, Peggy Barile, is the current town clerk.

“The level of threats, intimidation, abuse and humiliation increased exponentially” when Chelgren resisted the request, he alleged in the suit.

Barile told The Item that the position has always been full time.

Chelgren alleged Barile and selectman Richard Lombard “created a work environment pervaded by harassment and abuse, with the resulting intimidation, humiliation, and stigmatization, which poses a formidable barrier to (Chelgren’s) performance of his job functions and contributions to the citizens of the town of Nahant.”

Both the town and Chelgren signed documentation to dismiss the action in its entirety and without prejudice, according to Attorney Darren Klein, special counsel for the town and Board of Selectmen. A hearing previously scheduled for May has been canceled.

“There is a signed agreement,” Klein said. “The complaint is nothing more than a list of allegations. It has been resolved and everyone is moving on in their own directions at this point.”

Chelgren’s attorney, Steven Marullo, declined to comment on whether his client stands by the accusations, citing a confidentiality agreement.

Barile said the accusations were not true.

“There’s not much I can say, other than that I don’t believe any of it,” said Barile. “The discrimination — not even a chance. He has resigned from his position and it has all been resolved.”

Chelgren accepted the job in March 2015. His three-year contract is not set to expire until June 2018. Before his time in Nahant, Chelgren, of Lynn, served as the town administrator of Marblehead, where he resigned about four months before his three-year contract expired.

Gerry Perry of Swampscott was appointed as interim town administrator Thursday.

Lombard declined to comment. Town Counsel Daniel Skrip did not return requests for comment.

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