After Conshohocken’s city council voted unanimously to fire Borough Manager Francis Marabella in 2014, Councilman James Griffin told the press that Marabella just wasn’t doing a good job, or “the right job,” as Griffin more diplomatically put it. But two years later, Marabella has resurfaced with a lawsuit, claiming that the real reason that Conshohocken fired him was that he was getting old.
Marabella, 62, actually held two positions with Conshohocken. He was both the borough manager — that’s the lead administrative position in Conshohocken government — and the chief finance officer. He started in April 2006, and by the time he was fired in March 2014, Marabella was earning an annual salary of $141,300 plus benefits.
According to the lawsuit, filed in Philadelphia’s federal court, Marabella had never received a negative review and was fired without being given a reason for his termination. He was less than two years away from being eligible to retire with lifetime health benefits for him and his family.
Just before Marabella was fired, he alleges that the borough tried to force him to retire and that a 43-year-old office manager was promoted to assistant borough manger “just in case something happened” to Marabella, as he says he was told. The lawsuit also claims that his employer told him that the borough needed “someone who will take us forward for the next 10 years,” and it cites comments that officials made in the press at the time of his termination, including one council member who said, “We feel it was a little too much for him.”
In the end, Marabella’s dual position was split into two separate positions. The 43-year-old former office manager was promoted to interim manager, eventually yielding that position to a new 53-year-old borough manager, and a 53-year-old staff accountant became the chief finance officer.
Marabella says that his contract entitled him to full retirement benefits unless he was fired for just cause, which he says he was not, and so he is suing for breach of contract. His lawsuit also claims age discrimination, among other offenses. He is seeking unspecified damages over $150,000.
Conshohocken officials didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.
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