Todd Pepper is suing his employer, Solid Waste Authority, for $850,000 in wrongful dismissal damages, claiming that Solid Waste created a hostile work environment.
Pepper was hired in 1989 by Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority (EWSWA).  He was appointed General Manager in 1994.  Things started to go downhill for Pepper when Deputy Mayor Tom Burton was appointed to the company’s board.  According to Pepper, his authority was undermined on a number of occasions by the city and politicians, who criticized him publicly.  He claims there were procedural lapses; one in particular involved a lack of quorum on a vote to have the terms of his contract reviewed.  The review was prompted by contentious remarks Pepper publicly made, before consulting the board.  As a result of evident friction between Pepper and Solid Waste’s board, Pepper abandoned his post and took an unpaid leave of absence in April 2009.
In June 2010, more than 14 months after being without a General Manager, Solid Waste took matters into their own hands and appointed a new General Manager, Eli Maodus.  Stripped from his General Manager position, Pepper was advised that reasonable efforts would be made to find him other job duties at Solid Waste.  Pepper is now taking the position that he was wrongfully dismissed.
The company and Pepper have been quiet on details surrounding the case.  However, the animosity between Pepper and Solid Waste is no secret; the parties have been openly exchanging blows in the public forum.
Pepper could have some ammunition if the review of his contract was a breach of policy.  If the court finds that Solid Waste created an environment that Pepper could not return to with any dignity, then the re-evaluation of his contract may be equated with dismissal.
It should be interesting to watch this unravel, as more details are made available to the public.
 

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