County Assistant Claims Harassment

By JONATHAN BURKE

A legal complaint filed on Monday in Dukes County Superior Court alleges that Carol Borer, former county manager, threatened to kill Marsha Smolev, executive assistant, after Ms. Smolev inadvertently knocked her foot against Ms. Borer's desk.

Ms. Smolev is seeking damages for emotional distress, defamation, assault and battery and civil rights violations from Mrs. Borer and her husband, Steven. She alleges that Mrs. Borer displayed a pattern of harassment against her.

Mr. Borer is alleged to have participated in the harassment by sending Ms. Smolev a vulgar and abusive e-mail message.

On Wednesday, a superior court judge allowed Ms. Smolev's attorneys to place a $100,000 lien on the Borers' home in Tisbury. James Rogers, Ms. Smolev's attorney, had requested permission to attach the home for up to $350,000. The Borers recently put the residence up for sale.

Yesterday, Mr. Rogers said Ms. Smolev was considering whether to file a legal action against the county as well. He said he was in discussions with Michael Gilman, the county's attorney, and that it would be premature to comment on the specifics of a future legal action against the county.

In a Jan. 12 letter to Michael Gilman, the county's attorney, Mr. Rogers said that Ms. Smolev had also suffered harassment at the hands of other county employees. The letter alleges "sexually harassing conduct by a current county commissioner," "unwarranted defamatory public allegations by a current county commissioner regarding her mental and emotional state" and "misconduct by current and former employees of the county during their employment with the County of Dukes County."

In Ms. Smolev's complaint, Mr. Rogers describes a pattern of harassment against Ms. Smolev while she worked for Mrs. Borer, former county manager.

The complaint charges: "On or about June 6, 2002, Marsha Smolev accidentally hit her foot against Carol Borer's desk. Shortly thereafter, Borer in anger struck Smolev and stated, ‘I'm gonna kill you.' "

The complaint further alleges: "On divers occasions, Borer asked Smolev to conduct menial tasks not included in her job description, many of which were in the presence of her peers. One example, among many, occurred on or about, May 7, 2002, when Borer demanded that Smolev carry three large cartons of light bulbs from the basement."

The complaint claims that Ms. Borer harmed Ms. Smolev's reputation by asserting that Ms. Smolev computed the numbers for Ms. Borer's vacation and sick day buy-back package, which was later determined to be incorrect. Paragraph 16 reads:

"On or about Dec. 19, 2002, Borer, when questioned about her ‘buy back' figures, knowingly misrepresented to the financial advisory board that Smolev kept Borer's records and that Smolev calculated the monies owed to Borer under the ‘buy back' records."

An investigation by two county commissioners concluded that $4,874 of an approximately $22,000 in severance pay to Ms. Borer was improperly paid. The county has asked Ms. Borer to return the $4,874 which represents 16 vacation days. At the county commission's weekly meeting Wednesday night, Dianne Powers, acting county manager, informed the commissioners that Mrs. Borer had rejected the county's request for a return of funds.

Mrs. Borer's severance payment was made pursuant to her formal resignation from the county at the end of the year. Mrs. Borer had agreed in November to continue on as temporary county manager, but abruptly cleaned out her office following the finance advisory board's refusal to approve her severance package.

Ms. Smolev has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the county's investigation into her claims of improper behavior on the part of some of its employees and officers.

"Marsha absolutely wants her job back. She is the victim in this situation. She is the one who should be back at work," said Mr. Rogers.