Former Department of Transportation Commissioner Joseph Marie, who was forced to resign by Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s administration after being confronted with unsubstantiated harassment allegations, denies any wrongdoing.
Richard Hayber, Marie’s lawyer, said his client wasn’t even told the name of his accuser when he was summoned by administration officials for a June 29 meeting.
“This person’s name has not been disclosed to him,” Hayber said.
After about a week of silence and a public statement that Marie had resigned to spend more time with his family and “pursue long-term employment opportunities,” Rell folded under questioning from the media and alluded to the harassment allegations that preceded his resignation. Then the Office of Policy and Management released the stipulated agreement, which Hayber said his client was told “would never see the light of day.”
Hayber argues that the agreement was supposed to be part of Marie’s personnel file and not available under the state’s Freedom of Information laws. However, the governor’s office received a different opinion from the Freedom of Information Commission, which confirmed with her attorney’s that it was a document it could disclose. Hayber said M. Lisa Moody, Rell’s chief of staff, “wanted it disclosed” and the governor’s legal counsel agreed. The governor’s office said that’s not what happened.
Lawyers from the Office of Policy and Management received an FOIA request and complied with it. After an objection by Hayber was filed it asked the Freedom of Information Commission for guidance and the commission agreed it could be released.
During the June 29 meeting with Director of Labor Relations Linda Yelmini and Mary Anne O’Neill, Rell’s legal counsel, Marie was told that if he didn’t sign the stipulated agreement he would be terminated immediately for misconduct, according to Hayber.
Marie, whom Hayber said was also told not to bring anyone to the June 29 meeting, signed the agreement, Hayber said. But once it was leaked to the media the benefit he thought he was getting by signing was “ totally lost.”
At an unrelated event Thursday, Rell said Marie offered his resignation and she accepted it.
“Obviously I didn’t offer a lot of the details and I think everyone would and should understand why. You want to — have feelings for the person who alleged complaints and you want to have feelings, obviously, for family members who could be wrapped up in this through no fault of their own.”
“I want to emphasize once again that these are allegations. The individual did not file a complaint,” Rell said. “But my responsibility is if any allegations surface and they did. It’s my responsibility to review them and make appropriate determinations.”
Hayber didn’t mention any future legal action against Rell or the state.
Marie was hired two years ago by Rell. He came to the state with more than 22 years of experience in both the public and private transit industry. Prior to his work in Connecticut, he worked in Arizona on the $1.4 billion Central Phoenix/East Valley Rail System.