Orange Township has special meeting over administrator


Gail Messmer is apparently no longer administrator of Orange Township.

At a brief special meeting Wednesday afternoon, township Trustees Robert Quigley and Debbie Taranto voted 2-0 to authorize “township legal counsel to proceed with negotiation of agreement regarding the separation from employment of the township administrator and the resolution of all existing claims.”

Quigley and Taranto declined any further comment to The Gazette following the vote. A third trustee, Lisa Knapp, was not present at the meeting.

Last March, Messmer filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against trustees based on her gender, age and disability. Messmer, 55, was hired by the township in 2005.

According to the EEOC charge, Messmer said the trustees are younger than her, and “have followed a consistent practice of taking action intended to force the resignation of employees nearing retirement age.”

“Ms. Messmer has no intention of being forced to do the same,” states a letter to trustees from David T. Ball of the law firm of Rosenberg & Ball Co., LPA, dated March 5.

The EEOC charge states that retaliation has taken place in the form of transferring some of Messmer’s key job responsibilities to younger employees; interfering with her job performance; and reassigning staff that had reported to her.

Messmer also alleges that a trustee defamed her during an open session; and that she has received smaller pay raises than younger employees.

The letter to trustees asked them to take a number of actions, including “return staff members to Ms. Messmer’s direct report/chain of command,” and “refrain from usurping Ms. Messmer’s authority and responsibility.”

In a Gazette article written following the letter’s publication, Trustees Robert Quigley, Debbie Taranto and Lisa Knapp denied the charges. They also voted not to request remediation in the case.

Messmer was not present at the meeting. Her name was no longer listed on the township’s website Wednesday. She said she had no comment when she was reached by telephone by The Gazette late Wednesday afternoon.


By Gary Budzak

[email protected]

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