Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Holmdel secretly pays $80,000 to settle gender discrimination suit.

On July 6, 2015, the Township of Holmdel (Monmouth County) agreed to pay $80,000 to a female applicant who, allegedly because of her gender, was not hired as a police officer.

In her suit, Stephanie Geisel claimed that even though she ranked 2nd on the civil service eligibility list and was otherwise highly qualified, Holmdel offered positions to three men "two of whom were less qualified than [Geisel], they had less formal education, less police experience and scored lower than Geisel on the Civil Service examination."  She claimed that Chief John Mioduszewski simply did not want female police officers to serve on the force.  Geisel appears to have later secured a position with the Middletown Police Department.

The case is captioned Geisel v. Township of Holmdel et al, Monmouth County Superior Court Docket No. MON-L-3138-13 and Geisel's attorney was David F. Corrigan of Keyport.  Case documents are on-line here.

The settlement agreement contains a confidentiality clause, which prevents the parties to the suit from publicly disclosing the settlement terms.  Fortunately, however, these confidentiality clauses do not trump the public's right to obtain copies of settlement agreements that arise out of lawsuits in which a government agency or official is a defendant.

None of Geisel's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $80,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Holmdel or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Holmdel or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Geisel $80,000 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.