Judge recommends against dismissing whistleblower lawsuit against former South Hadley electricity manager Wayne Doerpholz

By Jim Russell | MassLive

A federal judge this week recommended against a motion by the town’s former electric department manager, Wayne Doerpholz, to dismiss a $750,000 whistleblower lawsuit that alleges he permitted a hostile work environment.

The lawsuit, filed by South Hadley Electric Light Department employee Robert Blasko, also named the SHELD board of commissioners and a company engineer, Andy Orr, as defendants.

Orr resigned from the agency last month. Doerpholz’ contract was not renewed, and his employed ended in May.
Judge Katherine Robinson recommended that the complaints against Doerpholz, as well as a complaint against Orr in which Blasko alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress, should not be dismissed.

“Plaintiff claims principally that the defendants retaliated against him because he complained outside of SHELD about Doerpholz’s mismanagement of SHELD, including, in particular, Doerpholz’s longstanding tolerance of Orr’s harassing, threatening and, at times, violent workplace misconduct directed at fellow SHELD employees, including plaintiff,” the judge wrote.

In a footnote to the judge’s Aug. 22 decision, she wrote that if either party objected, they must file, within 14 days, a notice with the court, detailing their reasons, and that “failure to comply with this rule shall preclude further appellate review by the Court of Appeals.”