Wednesday, May 13, 2015

West Cape May pays $62,500 to settle whistle blower and age discrimination suit.

On November 24, 2014, the Borough of West Cape May (Cape May County) agreed to pay $62,500 to its former Recycling Coordinator who said he was fired because of his age and because he reported that his supervisor was drunk on job.

In his suit, David Cox, a Borough employee since 2006, said that he was "abruptly terminated" on May 5, 2011 for having reported that his supervisor, Robert Flynn, "was intoxicated at or during the course of his employment."  He claimed that after reporting Flynn, he was  treated differently and that Matt Franco, who was "significantly younger" than Cox, was hired and given some of Cox's duties.  The complaint says that Franco hit Cox in the head with a pipe, causing a concussion, but does not say whether Franco's actions were accidental or deliberate.

After claiming to have suffered a hostile work environment, Cox said that he made a written complaint to Borough Commissioner Peter Burke.  Burke allegedly summoned Plaintiff to the office on May 5, 2011 at which time he was "terminated immediately."  Cox claimed that he was, under duress, "coerced" to sign a separation agreement.  Cox said that Franco was put in his position after his firing.

The case is captioned Cox v. West Cape May, Docket No. CPM-L-205-12 and Cox's attorney was Joseph Ives Picillo of Turnersville.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Cox's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $62,500 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by West Cape May or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that West Cape May or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Cox $62,500 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.