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Employees: Former Woodlands Chief ‘Touchy’

  • Jordynn George, of White River Junction, Vt., who worked at The Woodlands dining hall until last May alleges that the former administrator of the independent senior living facility, Tim Martin, was too touchy while she was working there. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Timothy Martin



Valley News Staff Writer
Saturday, February 24, 2018

Lebanon — Three former employees of The Woodlands retirement community say that they complained about physical contact initiated by administrator Timothy Martin with a teenage girl but that they were ignored by officials at Alice Peck Day Health Systems, which oversees the residential facility.

Martin was fired last week for what APD administrators described as “a pattern of unprofessional conduct” in a letter that was sent to residents of the 63-unit independent living facility. The Woodlands and the 76-unit assisted living Harvest Hill together comprise Alice Peck Day Lifecare.

What connection, if any, the complaints the three employees made about Martin had to his eventual firing remains unclear. The complaints were lodged in 2015, and APD officials have declined to comment beyond the letter, citing a policy that they say prevents them from publicly discussing personnel matters.

In fact, the employees say they were most upset by what they perceived at the time as APD officials’ failure to do anything to address their concerns.

Jordynn George, now 20, began working in the dining room at The Woodlands in 2013 when she was a teenager.

The White River Junction resident came to know Martin, a Quechee resident, after he took the job as administrator of the facility in August of 2014. He came to The Woodlands after more than three decades of leading senior living communities, including Taylor Community in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire and the Milton Residences for the Elderly in Massachusetts.

“At first he was just really nice,” George said in a recent phone interview. “But then he just like became too friendly and too touchy-feely, especially with all of us waitresses.”

In an emailed response this week to questions about the allegations about Martin’s behavior toward employees, APD spokesman Peter Glenshaw wrote: “As a healthcare organization we are committed not only to the care of our patients but also to our employees. We have established guidelines and policies in place to provide a safe workplace.”

Martin, reached on his cellphone on Wednesday evening, declined to comment.

George said she tolerated the physical contact from Martin, which included hugs and high fives, for a while, but she said he eventually crossed a line. During the day, George’s tasks included making sandwiches for the residents at lunchtime. This was a task she often would perform alone.

“He would come in the back,” she said. “He would like rub my shoulders.”

In one instance, George said Martin took a pen out of the pocket of her apron while she was wearing it.

This touching made George uncomfortable, so she reported it to APD’s human resources department with the support of her supervisor Stephane Meloche, a Lebanon resident who was then the manager of The Woodlands’ dining room.

“Especially with the young ladies, he was very touchy,” Meloche said in a recent phone interview.

Meloche said he remembered Martin standing behind George during meetings with his hand on her shoulder. Though Meloche said that Martin acted this way with all of the young women in the dining room, George seemed to draw a disproportionate amount of his attention because she worked the most hours.

Another former employee, a chef named Eddy Travis, also witnessed Martin’s behavior in the dining room.

“Tim liked to touch the girls a little too much,” Travis said. “There was a wandering eye.”

Travis said it was difficult to reconcile Martin’s behavior toward the young female workers with his “professional side.”

“He sent, as a leader, a lot of confusing messages,” Travis said. “I didn’t know which one was the real Tim Martin.”

George and her mother, Kimberly, also of White River Junction, spoke with two members of the human resources team about Martin’s behavior in spring 2015.

Neither of the Georges was satisfied with HR’s response to the complaint, which they said was to ask Martin about the allegations and then tell Jordynn George that Martin had apologized and said he wouldn’t do it again.

“Their response ... made me really mad,” Kimberly George said. “That’s considered sexual harassment in the workplace.”

Kimberly George said her daughter’s demeanor changed after her interaction with HR.

“She was more withdrawn,” Kimberly George said. “She was more quiet. She was sad.”

HR’s response, or lack thereof, also angered Meloche and Travis. Travis said he was particularly irked that though he had signed on to Jordynn George’s complaint as a witness to Martin’s behavior — “I could see him rubbing up against her with his hands on her back” — no one from human resources ever came to speak with him about it.

“That’s one of the inconsistencies I’m talking about,” Travis said.

Though Kimberly George said she offered her daughter the choice of pursuing the matter through a lawsuit, Jordynn George didn’t want to pursue it further.

Jordynn George said she suspected that APD officials were hesitant to punish Martin because he was successful in marketing the apartments.

“At the time, he was bringing in a lot of money to The Woodlands,” she said.

Several residents, in conversations last week, also said that Martin was an effective salesman; he was polite and friendly; and he worked long hours to help residents.

“I have only thought highly of Tim,” resident Joanne Scobie said in a phone interview last week. “I think he was a very hard worker here.”

Reporting the inappropriate touching seemed to put a stop to it, Jordynn George said.

“He stayed away from me for the most part,” George said.

But The Woodlands dining room continued to be an uncomfortable work environment, the former employees said. Both Meloche and Jordynn George said that after they reported Martin’s behavior, he reacted by writing them up for minor infractions.

George said in one instance Martin wrote her up for forgetting to put out pickles at lunchtime. While he allowed other employees to chat with their friend, the concierge, during breaks, George wasn’t allowed to do so, she said.

George continued working at The Woodlands until May 2017, primarily because she enjoyed working with the residents, she said. She now works as an assistant teacher at the Children’s Center of the Upper Valley on Mechanic Street in Lebanon, not far from APD. It’s a job she likes, but she misses working with seniors.

“They were so nice and they had a lot of nice stories about their life,” she said. “It was really hard when some of them would pass away. Sometimes I still go back and visit them.”

Frustrated by APD officials’ failure to take formal action in response to George’s complaint, Meloche left The Woodlands later in 2015. He now works for Claremont-based Turning Points Network, which provides support and advocacy for victims of domestic violence.

“I wish I could have done a little bit more for her,” he said of George.

Travis, a Navy veteran, left The Woodlands in September 2016. He took a job at Kendal at Hanover, where he said he found fewer inconsistencies in management.

Travis, a Wilmot, N.H., resident, is now working toward a bachelor’s degree in hospitality and business from Southern New Hampshire University and working as a chef at Woodlawn Care Center in Newport.

George, Meloche and Travis all said they were unsurprised by Martin’s firing last week, but they wondered why it had taken so long and what finally motivated officials to take action, almost three years after she reported Martin’s behavior to human resources.

“I was confused on why he actually got fired,” George said.

While Meloche said he was glad that Martin “finally got what he deserved,” he said he hopes that those who protected him also are affected by this.

Meloche said he thought the human resources department likely would react differently if a worker were to come forward with a similar complaint today, given the effect the #MeToo movement has had on employers in recent months.

“Nobody takes a chance anymore,” he said.

It appears that Martin had difficulties — though it’s unclear what kind — with employees of at least one of the other senior living facilities he managed before coming to work in Lebanon.

Bob Selig, the former board chairman of Taylor Community, which offers continuing care in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, where Martin worked until mid-2013, also said, “We had a bit of a problem here too.”

Though The Quechee Times described Martin’s leave from the Taylor Community as “retirement” in a 2015 story, Selig said that Martin’s departure from Taylor was the result of “a joint agreement that he would be better (off) in another environment.”

“I think that Tim Martin is a competent administrator,” Selig said in a phone interview on Tuesday. “I think that his problem is in relationships with the people that work for him.”

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.