At the June 12 Board of Trustees meeting, it was unanimously approved for Supervisor Janet Dunn to gather names of potential outside legal counsel to offer an investigative opinion on a grievance.

At the June 12 Board of Trustees meeting, it was unanimously approved for Supervisor Janet Dunn to gather names of potential outside legal counsel to offer an investigative opinion on a grievance.

Photo by Alex Szwarc


Macomb Township board approves supervisor to gather names of outside legal counsel

Grievance removed from agenda

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published June 19, 2019

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Less than a month after the township board rejected an outside attorney to launch an employee investigation, it was decided to seek an outside assessment for a grievance hearing.

At the June 12 Board of Trustees meeting, which lasted over three and a half hours, it was unanimously approved for Supervisor Janet Dunn to gather names of potential outside legal counsel to offer an investigative opinion on a grievance.

The grievance was filed against General Counsel and Human Resources Director Tom Esordi.

Trustee Kathy Smith, who was appointed to the board in December, recommended four attorneys who specialize in labor law to offer the opinion — Craig Lane, Howard Schiffman, Richard Fanning and Dennis DuBay.

In May, the board denied a request for outside legal counsel to conduct an employee investigation regarding the conduct of Esordi.

The request to explore hiring outside counsel for investigative opinion was added to the June 12 meeting by Trustee Tim Bussineau.

The grievance hearing was on the meeting agenda until Trustee Roger Krzeminski requested it be removed, citing he wasn’t allowed to hear a tape prior to the meeting that would’ve been played at the meeting.

“The reason for the removal, we believe, is not valid,” records manager Charles Pierce said. “There’s no requirement upon the union to provide you material for the hearing. We provided you with backup materials for your review.”

Bussineau said he thought the grievance was going to be discussed at the meeting.

“A lot of people feel there is a conflict of interest between a dual position of HR/general counsel,” he said. “Some may give the opinion there is no conflict. I believe on this grievance issue, there is a conflict of interest.”

He said although general counsel is well qualified, the board will have to turn to someone else.

“I don’t know who to turn to when we hear this grievance,” Bussineau said. “We need a general counsel to give an opinion on an HR action and I’m not comfortable hearing this grievance without outside legal opinion.”

He added that bringing in an outside attorney might show that general counsel and the human resources director are right.

Bussineau guaranteed the grievance hearing will be held in public.

Smith said that in fairness to Esordi, it would be right to hire outside legal counsel to offer an investigative opinion.

“It seems like a no-brainer to me that we would hire outside legal counsel when there is a grievance filed against HR/legal counsel,” Pozzi said. “Let’s put the investigation to bed.”

Trustee Nancy Nevers said she is a fan of due process and expected the grievance to happen at the meeting.

“I don’t have a problem with outside counsel. I would just like it to be several names put in a hat that are qualified to do this kind of thing,” she said.

At the May 22 meeting, Pozzi suggested attorney Greg Mein to assist the board with the grievance process.

Pozzi said on April 15, three full-time elected officials received a complaint from an HR employee regarding the behavior of Esordi.

In the past, Esordi has stated that he doesn’t comment on township operations.

Check next week’s Chronicle for more coverage of the board meeting, including plans for a proposed park on 24 Mile Road, the rejection of a rezoning request for a site of a senior housing community and a second option regarding an ethics ordinance to be voted on June 26.

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