Morristown zoning officer resigns in wake of harassment charge

John Fugger, the Morristown zoning officer accused of harassing a female employee, has resigned, effective on March 9, according to his attorney.

“Mr. Fugger and the town are satisfied with this resolution. He’ll be retiring after 25 years and moving on,” perhaps to work for another town,  said lawyer Peter Gilbreth. 

John Fugger at Morristown planning board meeting in 2011. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

John Fugger at Morristown planning board meeting in 2011. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

John Fugger was suspended without pay from his $83,469  job in October after a female subordinate filed a harassment complaint with police.

Last month, the woman’s lawyer filed a tort claim– alerting the town that a lawsuit may be coming–contending that the woman received a harassing voice message from the zoning officer on Nov. 17, just weeks after she had pressed her complaint.

The tort claim alleges a “pattern of stalking, sexual harassment and retaliation for rejection of [Fugger's] advances” stretching back to 2009, and hints at legal action against the zoning officer and the town for psychological pain, emotional distress and humiliation inflicted by the alleged situation.

The March retirement date will enable John Fugger to reach the 25-year mark in town hall–a milestone that enables him to retire with lifetime health benefits.

And although he was suspended without pay, he will be compensated for unused sick days and vacation time, Peter Gilbreth said.

Meanwhile, the harassment case still is pending. Lisa Manshel, the woman’s lawyer, did not return calls seeking comment. Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty also could not be reached for comment.

UPDATE:

On Tuesday the Mayor’s office noted that this is a continuing legal matter, which limited its ability to comment beyond this statement:

The Town always strives to create a healthy, productive Work environment for all of its employees. This is reflected in the Town’s strict and thorough personnel procedure for reporting harassment allegations. As soon as a harassment complaint was filed against Mr. Fugger, he was immediately suspended and removed from the work place. The Town took this administrative step the same day the harassment complaint was filed to send a message that such allegations are taken seriously, and to ensure that all employees are free from any kind of harassment that is disruptive to the work environment.

Immediately thereafter, the Town retained an outside independent investigator to interview witnesses and engage in an impartial fact finding investigation. Recently, the confidential investigative report was finalized and provided to the Town. However, the Town will not take any further administrative action because Mr. Fugger had already submitted a letter of resignation, and will not be returning to Town Hall.

Again, Morristown has personnel policies in place to prevent such incidents of harassment. If an employee willingly refuses to utilize such procedures, the Town cannot prevent what it does not know and cannot proceed without the cooperation of the complaining employee.



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