Friday, November 25, 2016

Kean University paid out $30,000 to resolve campus cop's discrimination lawsuit.

On September 27, 2016, Kean University (Union County) agreed to pay $30,000 to a former campus police officer who said that he was bullied and harassed because of his Jewish heritage.

In his lawsuit, Randy Diakunczak, who worked for Kean University Campus Police from 2004 until his termination in November 2014, recounted many examples of alleged discrimination and retaliation, including being denied overtime, suggestions that he was gay and trying to poison his ability to get positions with the Marlboro, Edison and Highland Park police departments. 

As one example, Diakunczak alleged that Detective Michael Gorman was suspended for six months without pay after a forensic handwriting analysis showed that he had written words such as "Homo," "Monkey Licker," "Box-o-Tools" and "Cow Chip" on Diakunczak's business cards.  Diakunczak claimed that Gorman was allowed to serve his suspension every other week and was given additional overtime to make up for it.

According to the lawsuit, three disciplinary charges were lodged against Diakunczak and he was ultimately terminated in November 2014.    The release called for Diakunczak to dismiss two pending Administrative Law matters and for the University to dismiss its lawsuit against Diakunczak that sought reimbursement of $29,999.18.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit were Chief David Parks, Sergeant Carlos Gonzalez, Detective Michael Gorman, Affirmative Action official Charlie Williams, Detective Sergeant Annie Coll and Lieutenant Vincent Kearney.

The case is captioned Diakunczak v. Kean University, et al, Docket No. UNN-L-0267-11 and Diakunczak's attorney was Nancy A. Valentino of Marlton. Case documents are on-line here.

None of lawsuit's allegations have been proven or disproven in court.  Settlement agreements typically state that payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by any of the defendants.  All that is known for sure is that Kean or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Diakunczak $30,000 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants' decision 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 resolve before trial--it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened.