Thursday, May 25, 2017

Galloway paid out $75,000 to resolve employee's retaliation claim.

On March 24, 2017, the Township of Galloway (Atlantic County) agreed to pay $75,000 to a former Township-employed truck driver who claimed that Township officials retaliated against him and ultimately fired him after he filed a worker's compensation claim for his second job-related injury. 

In his complaint, Frank Chamberlain, who began working for Galloway in 2004, said that he suffered two work-related injuries in 2010 and 2011, both of which caused him to file workers' compensation claims.  He alleged that after the second claim was filed, he received "several disciplinary notices" and that his evaluations became less favorable.  Chamberlain claimed that when he was meeting with Township Manager Arch Liston, he received a telephone call from his union representative which caused him to again be disciplined for unauthorized use of his cell phone.

He said that the Township's actions against him placed him under "economic duress" which caused him to settle the disciplinary matters by accepting a demotion from truck driver to maintenance employee.  He said that the new position required him to do "menial tasks such as cleaning the bathroom and mopping up the floors."

When Galloway decided to transfer all its Facilities Department workers to its Utilities Department, Chamberlain said that DPW Director Kevin McDowell indicated that he didn't want to transfer Chamberlain because he felt that he could not climb up ladders or crawl on the floor.  According to the lawsuit, Utilities Director Tim McKenna told Chamberlain that he didn't want to transfer him to his department "because he did not want old men with bad arms working for him."

Chamberlain said that he was terminated from Galloway on December 31, 2012.

The case is captioned Chamberlain v. Township of Galloway, et al, Superior Court Docket No. ATL-L-6743-14 and Chamberlain's attorney was David R. Castellani of Northfield.  Case documents are on-line here

None of Chamberlain'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 Galloway or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Chamberlain $75,000 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.