A former Derby tax clerk is suing Derby Police Chief Gerald Narowksi, alleging he “stalked” and harassed her.
In her lawsuit, Laurene Boulton alleges Narowski once made a disparaging remark that was aimed at her on his personal Facebook account, gave her the finger after they passed each other on the road, and once followed her in a car in downtown Ansonia.
The three alleged incidents took place between Oct. 18 and Oct. 22, 2015, according to Boulton’s lawsuit.
The lawsuit filed July 1 is the latest in a series of complaints filed by Boulton. Her husband, Scott, is a former Third Ward Alderman and current sergeant at the Derby Police Department, where Narowksi is chief.
Boulton seeks at least $15,000, a standard amount stated in civil lawsuits in Connecticut.
An email seeking comment was sent to Narowski Aug. 4. An email seeking comment was sent to Boulton’s lawyer Aug. 5.
Boulton worked in the tax office at Derby City Hall until she was fired last year.
She recently won a Freedom of Information complaint against Derby connected to her termination, and she has a discrimination complaint pending against the mayor and the city in front of the state’s Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.
This article will attempt to summarize the various complaints.
The Firing And The Appeal
Boulton started working in the tax office in Derby City Hall in September 2012.
She was fired in March 2015 after Mayor Anita Dugatto received a series of anonymous letters showing Boulton had been arrested for stealing $187 worth of clothes from a department store in Danbury while employed by the city.
Boulton’s court case was resolved after she successfully completed “accelerated rehabilitation,” a court diversionary program, but she never told the city she had been arrested.
The city launched an investigation and Boulton was eventually fired after a “fact-finding” hearing that stretched from September 2014 to March 2015.
Boulton questioned whether her termination was justified by appealing to the Connecticut State Board of Mediation and Arbitration.
Boulton argued that the arrest was a momentary lapse in reason, after which she resumed her life as a productive citizen.
Furthermore, her lawyer argued that her mistake should not have affected her job because the transgression happened outside work.
Finally, her union representatives argued that whoever sent the anonymous letters were not doing so out of civic duty, but were motivated by a desire to hurt Boulton.
The city argued that Boulton’s arrest was egregious because she handled the public’s money in the tax office.
In addition, city lawyers said they received correspondence from the city’s insurance carrier saying she was a liability.
The labor board sided with the city, though one of the panelists stated Boulton should not have lost her job because of a low-level criminal offense.
The Police Commission Complaint
Earlier this year Boulton lodged a complaint with the Derby Police Commission against Chief Narowski. The details of the complaint were not made public, but they mirrored the allegations in Boulton’s recent lawsuit.
In March, the commission ruled that Narowski had violated the department’s social media policy. Meeting minutes indicate the violation was connected to a Facebook post.
Meanwhile, Boulton’s lawsuit alleges the Facebook post indirectly insults her in connection to her shoplifting arrest.
To discipline the chief, the commission voted to put a letter in Narowski’s file informing him of the violation.
Boulton filed a Freedom of Information request asking for a series of documents connected to Narowski’s employment, personnel file, and investigation into her complaint.
The commission denied parts of the request, citing attorney-client privilege. The city released Narowski’s personnel file to the Valley Indy through a Freedom of Information request.
Meeting minutes from the police commission indicate Boulton thought the police chief leaked information about her arrest and labor complaint to The Connecticut Post, which published a story on her trouble in February. Boulton’s arrest and labor complaint were publicly available prior to the Post’s article.
The Discrimination Complaint
On June 20, Boulton filed a complaint against the City of Derby saying her 2015 termination was based, at least in part, on the fact that she is female.
Boulton’s complaint is pending with the state’s Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.
Her complaint acknowledges that she was fired for stealing clothes, but alleges male employees in Derby “engaged in criminal activity while at work.”
Boulton alleges a Storm Ambulance member “intentionally damaged” city-owned gas tanks in Derby, but was allowed to pay the city back for the damage he caused. The Storms are mostly a volunteer organization.
In addition, she alleges an employee with the Water Pollution Control Authority improperly changed reporting data at the city’s sewage treatment plant but was not fired.
There’s a double standard at play in Derby when it comes to disciplining male and female workers, Boulton’s complaint alleges.
The complaint does not mention that under the previous Derby City Hall administration, Derby’s parking authority director was arrested in an online prostitution sting. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge — but remained employed by Derby without penalty.
Boulton’s lawsuit also doesn’t mention a prior tax clerk who was investigated by the city for mishandling data in the tax office was allowed to work out a deal in which Derby government promised not to call the police if she resigned and promised not to sue the city.
Freedom of Information Complaint
Boulton also filed a complaint last year against the City of Derby and Mayor Dugatto with the Freedom of Information Commission.
Boulton had submitted a freedom of information request to the city for emails from city officials regarding her termination.
Specifically, Boulton asked for emails from the mayor, the mayor’s assistant Henry Domurad, and Lisa Narowski, the police chief’s wife, who works in the building department in Derby City Hall.
She also requested all files or investigations connected to her employment in city hall.
The City of Derby turned over emails — but failed to give Boulton:
- Copies of emails that had been deleted.
- Copies of attachments referenced in emails.
Derby had claimed getting copies of deleted emails would have forced them to hire an outside vendor. That’s an excuse that doesn’t fly under the state’s Freedom of Information Act.
The commission ruled Derby violated the FOI Act and ordered the city to turn over the missing information. The city can charge Boulton for the documents, as long as the fees charged are within the bounds of the FOI Act.
The FOI Commission decision was dated July 27 and is available here.