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Former town manager files discrimination complaint

WINSTED — Former Town Manager Paul Vayer has filed a discrimination complaint against the town with the state’s Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.Vayer served as a town manager during the 1990s and as interim town manager starting Jan. 3, 2011. He applied for the full-time town manager position but was not hired. Dale Martin was hired to fill the position on March 10.The Winsted Journal has obtained a copy of Vayer’s complaint, which is on file at Town Hall. The complaint was filed with the commission on Aug. 22.According to the complaint, Vayer alleges that he was not hired for the permanent town manager position because of his age, race and physical disability. He is 64, white, has undergone heart surgery and is hearing-impared.His complaint begins with an interview he had with the Board of Selectmen on Nov. 11, 2010. The board was interviewing candidates to replace former Town Manager Wayne Dove, who resigned on Oct. 31, 2010.“During the course of an interview on Nov. 11, 2010, I was asked by Selectman Michael Renzullo ‘how old I was’ and in a accusatory manner ‘when I planned to retire,’” Vayer wrote in his complaint. “I responded stating my age, that I had no intention of retiring and that I could successfully perform the responsibilities of the position of town manager of the town as I had previously and successfully so in the past. No member of the selection board objected to the question regarding my age or retirement. I am unaware of whether the same questions regarding age and retirement were asked of any of the other prospective candidates.”Vayer wrote that on Nov. 15, 2010, he received an email from the town stating that he was no longer being considered for the position.He then cites an article published in The Register Citizen that quoted Mayor Candy Perez as saying the “primary criteria for selection of the position of town manager was ‘longevity.’”“I believe my age as well [as] the existence of my heart condition [angioplasty], and hearing [disability] was commonly known among the selection committee of the town and was a material consideration in my rejection for [town manager],” Vayer wrote.Despite the initial rejection, Perez contacted Vayer on Dec. 23, 2010, and asked him if he could serve as the interim town manager. Vayer accepted the request and the selectmen later approved his appointment.After his hiring, Vayer said the town began a new town manager search.“I was informed at the time by [the town] that I could again apply for the position of town manager, but was told there was no reason the final results, in terms of my application, would be different,” Vayer wrote in his complaint. “Further on during the discussion on my appointment as interim town manager, there was discussion among a number of Board of Selectmen members as to whether by accepting the interim appointment I should be precluded from even reapplying.”Vayer proceeded to reapply for the town manager position and, he wrote in the complaint, was provided a list of anticipated questions that would be asked by the selectmen during the interview process.Vayer goes on to write that a majority of the selectmen interviewed him for the town manager position on Feb. 17.“I was not asked any of the provided questions but rather questions as to my evaluation of the Board of Selectmen’s performance during my interim appointment and what suggestions I could give [the selectmen] in the future to enhance and their role in promoting the community, particularly in terms of economic development,” Vayer wrote.According to Vayer, one week later he was informed by Perez that he was not selected as a finalist for the town manager position.“[Perez said] the decision was not based upon negative performance as interim town manager,” Vayer wrote. “During the course of serving as interim town manager, I received positive comments and completed all the tasks the board identified as a priority and more.”Vayer then states that during the course of the selection process he received phone calls from former officials and members of the political community that the criteria for the selection process included “standards described as longevity, new and young.”He cites former Mayor John Gauger and former Selectman Porter Griffin as making those comments.“I believe there were no candidates over 64 and the selected candidate’s age was 47,” Vayer wrote. “I believe all candidates were well below the age of 64.”Vayer did not return calls for comment for this story.During its regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 19, the Board of Selectmen held an executive session to discuss Vayer’s complaint. The board did not take any action concerning the complaint during regular session.Perez declined to comment on Vayer’s complaint for this story.

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