Monday, December 8, 2014

Weehawken pays $49,500 to settle gender discrimination suit.

On January 7, 2014, the Township of Weehawken (Hudson County) agreed to pay $49,500 to a female employee who had sued for gender discrimination and creating a hostile work environment.  The Township also agreed to transfer the employee to another Township department with her retaining the same seniority and benefits.  Of the $49,500, $4,500 was specifically said to compensate the employee for attorney fees expended to contest what appears to be a municipal court complaint that was filed against her.

In her suit, Pilar Bardroff, who has been employed by the Township since 1992, most recently served Weehawken as its Assistant Recycling Coordinator. After Recycling Coordinator Stanley Iacono retired on December 31, 2007, Bardroff said that she was the "de facto" Recycling Coordinator and sought to be given that title and the attendant pay.  Instead of promoting her, Bardroff alleged that the Township left the position open until May 2010 and filled it with a less qualified male.  The male allegedly made $64,000 per year while Bardroff made $34,000.

She also alleged that she was transferred to another department in another building that was in disrepair, infested with mice and insects, reeked of chemical fumes and had pornographic graffiti displayed.  She also claimed that her filing cabinet was broken into by Public Works Director Robert Barsa and that Weehawken officials withheld her personal mail for over a year.

The case is captioned Bardroff v. Weehawken, Docket No. HUD-L-167-12 and Bardroff's attorney was Louis A. Zayas of North Bergen.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Bardroff's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the 449,500 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Weehawken or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Weehawken or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Bardroff $49,500 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants' 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 the defendants 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.