Sunday, July 19, 2015

Belleville gives library worker promotion, back pay and $5,500 in attorney fees to settle her discrimination claim.

On June 29, 2015, the Township of Belleville (Essex County) and the Township's Library Board agreed to settle a library worker's discrimination lawsuit by promoting her and giving her a year's back pay and $5,500 in attorney fees.

In her suit, Angela Gionio-Kistner, a library monitor since 2011, said that her desire to be promoted to Library assistant as well as her pregnancy were discussed by the Library Board during a June 11, 2014 public board meeting altough the Board was allegedly required by the Open Public Meetings Act to discuss those matters in executive or closed session.  She claimed that the Library Board, because of her pregnancy and a desire to not pay for health insurance, wrongly decided to withhold her promotion.

The case is captioned Gionio-Kistner v. Belleville Public Library Board, et al, Superior Court Docket No. ESX-L-6457-14 and Gionio-Kistner's attorney was Brian J. Aloia of Bloofield.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Gionio-Kistner's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $5,500 and back pay payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Belleville or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Belleville or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Gionio-Kistner $5,500 and back pay 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.