Members of the Hooksett, N.H., town council, which fired four town employees for gossiping about their boss, said in a statement Wednesday that without its action, the rumors would have formed the basis of a harassment case against the town.

“It has become increasingly clear in this case that we cannot protect these employees from their own self-destructive actions which resulted in turning this matter into a national media circus,” the statement from the Hooksett Town Council said.