Grievance alleges trustee made derogatory comments, sought personnel file of employee

GRAND BLANC TWP. — A new accusation is raising eyebrows in Grand Blanc Township.

Supervisor Scott Bennett last week confirmed a grievance had been filed against an elected official accused of “intimidating” staff at the township hall.

Bennett asked the board create a new policy for trustee/staff interactions to avoid such issues in the future.

Township documents identify the official as Trustee Joe Massey.

According to Bennett, employees reported that, on Aug. 20, Massey entered the township hall, asked where he could find a specific employee and asked to have access to that employee’s personnel file. The grievance alleges he also made “derogatory remarks” about the employee, Bennett said. Township documents indicate the comments were made in a closed-door meeting with another staff member.

The employee who was the subject of the remarks has spoken out against certain elected officials township records show.

“The union demand is for elected officials to cease and desist in interfering with day-to-day operations and the employees that work at the township (hall),” Bennett said.

Township records show Massey denies the allegations. Massey told the View he believes the complaint is racially motivated and declined to comment further, adding he doesn’t understand what happened.

In a Sept. 4 memo, Bennett wrote that Massey was in the building on Aug. 20 and was escorted to the employee’s office. However, there are no witnesses to support claims he made derogatory comments about the employee, or that he requested the personnel file.

The employee in question was not in her office when Massey arrived and did not speak with him, township records show.

Bennett said he would like a policy that limits the trustees’ access to staff. He said he has imposed a rule that, other than the supervisor, treasurer and clerk – who have offices in the building – elected officials cannot “wander around” inside the township hall.

He would like to take it a step further with policies describing appropriate interaction between the board and staff, as well as who has access to personnel files. The policies would protect both employees and elected officials, he said.

“We certainly do want a harmonious environment here for everybody,” said Clerk Cathy Lane. She recommended moving forward to see what the labor attorney proposes.

Bennett said the grievance is public information and subject to the Freedom of Information Act. He said the township already has received several FOIA requests for copies of the documents.