Friday, January 8, 2010

Voorhees Township settles with police dispatcher for $40,000

On November 25, 2008, Geraldine Rock, a former records clerk and dispatcher with the Voorhees Township (Camden County) Police Department, accepted $40,000 as full settlement of her discrimination and wrongful retaliation suit against the Voorhees Police Department and Police Lieutenant Louis Bordi. $18,432.50 of the $40,000 went to Rock while the remaining $21,567.50 went to her lawyer.

Rock's civil lawsuit, filed on January 23, 2008, alleges that she tripped and fell at work, injuring her foot, and that her injury caused her physician to restrict her "from prolonged walking or standing." Yet, she alleges, police officials would not let her use a unisex restroom that was close to her desk, but instead made her walk to a women's restroom that was much further away. She was also required, despite her doctor's note, "to stand up to help patrons at the window upwards to twenty times per day."

After she complained about the Department's refusal to accommodate her injury, Bordi and others allegedly "began a swift and harsh systematic pattern of harassment and retaliation." This allegedly included taking away of overtime hours, filing disciplinary charges against her for having moved her computer monintor so that she could dust under it and making her bring water from home instead of using the office's watercooler.

As part of the settlement, the Township agreed to remove several documents from Rock's personnel file and agreed not to mention anything negative to any of Rock's prospective employers.

The case is captioned Rock v. Township of Voorhees, et al, Case No. 08-cv-1385. Rock's lawyer was Alan H. Schorr of Cherry Hill. The lawsuit and settlement agreement are on-line here,

None of Rock's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement expressly states that the $40,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Bordi or any other official. All that is known for sure is that Voorhees Township, and perhaps its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that they would rather pay Rock and her lawyer $40,000 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps Voorhees' decision to settle was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and Voorhees wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases settle before trial--it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened.