T faces $850,000 judgment in ‘grudge’ case
Appeals Court upholds whistleblower complaint
THE STATE APPEALS COURT on Monday upheld a judgment of more than $850,000 against the MBTA for allowing a manager with a 10-year-old grudge against a fellow employee to use his connections at the agency to force the worker into retirement.
According to the decision, the employee, Thomas Tryon, learned about the scheme from the T manager who forced him out when they were both being represented by the same attorney in separate lawsuits against the MBTA.
The source of the grudge dates to 2001, when Tryon, who was then the superintendent of maintenance of way, visited a work site and discovered a crew was not present at the time they were scheduled to be working overtime. Crew members, including Patrick Kineavy, were docked pay for the infraction. They filed complaints against Tryon, alleging “harassment and retaliation,” but those went nowhere.
Close to nine years later, Kineavy sought his revenge, according to the Appeals Court decision. Both he and Tryon were working in the maintenance of way division and reporting to a new superior, Stephen Trychon. Trychon, at the suggestion of Kineavy, initially shifted Tryon to a night job and then maneuvered him out of that job, according to the decision. With no other prospects at the agency and facing the likelihood he would have to report to Kineavy if he stayed on, Tryon retired in January 2011, filing an age discrimination complaint based on comments made by Trychon at the time.
The MBTA appealed the lower court decision on several mostly technical grounds, all of which were rejected by the Appeals Court on Monday. The court also held that Tryon could collect money to recover his attorney fees from the MBTA.