By Josh Resnek
It appears the mayor’s chief of staff Kevin O’Donnell is in the middle of the Wellness Center investigation now before the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.
O’Donnell is apparently mentioned several times in the MCAD filing by a former Wellness Center employee alleging sexual harassment and bullying in her discrimination complaint, according to a source close to the investigation.
O’Donnell is said to have used obscene language and intimidation during a questioning round he held with the alleged victim with others present apparently at the Wellness Center.
If this is in fact the case, it would be the second time O’Donnell has been among the subjects of an MCAD investigation into employment discrimination issues lodged against him.
A public records request to the MCAD for information about the discrimination filing made by the alleged Wellness Center victim was denied until such time as an investigative disposition is issued. Without that, the MCAD told the Leader Herald, there would be no information forthcoming about the case.
Several weeks ago we wrote that the Boston law firm Nixon Peabody, representing the city in the Wellness Center matter, conducted third party interviews of all the major players in the sexual harassment and bullying charges lodged against a number of employees of the department.
O’Donnell is not believed to be one of those who sexually harassed or bullied the alleged victim but he may have been interviewed, according to the source.
During a meeting last year with the former employee and others, she is alleging when she attempted to speak, O’Donnell looked at her, told her to “sit the f**k down”, and “to shut your f***g mouth,” confirmed a source close to the alleged victim.
O’Donnell was last before the MCAD in 2007.He was working in the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office when an employee brought a complaint before the MCAD that she was discriminated against by him and by others due to her asthmatic condition and the refusal of O’Donnell and others to acknowledge and to deal with according to the rules and regulations.
She ultimately received a $75,000 settlement for emotional distress, and she was allowed to go back to work as a corrections officer. She said her life was ruined after losing her job.
The MCAD fined O’Donnell’s agency $10,000 for the “knowing, willful, and egregious discriminatory actions to have been committed.” She also got her back pay, another $14,000, all out of pocket health insurance charges, and an additional $56,000.
O’Donnell and others in the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office were required to undergo training about all forms of handicap discrimination as part of the settlement.The case was about a woman who was working as a corrections officer but suffered from extreme asthma and could not work normal shifts or when the temperature dropped too low.
O’Donnell filed an application for her involuntary disability retirement a week after the victim filed her MCAD complaint.
O’Donnell later claimed not to have been aware of the MCAD filing at the time he forced the corrections officer into involuntary retirement.The MCAD in its official report said of O’Donnell’s claim: “His claim is not credible.”He was employed at the Sheriff’s Office as the Human Resource Director.