A city health department employee who filed a complaint after being overlooked for promotion has won the case, according to court documents.
Thakur “Paul” Persaud, program manager for disease prevention and control, sued the city in 2012 after he was overlooked for the health officer position in the health department.
Last month, in an opinion issued by judges Ellen Koblitz, Clarkson Fisher, and Marianne Espinosa, the court found the city had broken its own residency rule by overlooking Persaud, a city resident, for Trevor Weigle, a non-resident.
City ordinance requires the health officer to be a resident; however, an exception allows the position to go to a non-resident if no qualified city resident is able to fulfill the requirements of the job.
When Persaud complained to the state’s Civil Service Commission city officials cited that Weigle had experience as a health officers. Weigle was appointed in 2009 as an acting health officer, according to court documents.
The judges considered Persaud’s decades of healthcare experience. “Yet, these extensive qualifications, including a medical degree, Master’s degree, a Health Officer license, and twenty-five years of healthcare experience, came in second, in the eyes of the City, to the fact that Weigle was temporarily assigned to the post,” read the judgment.
Persaud, whose salary stood at $49,327, attempted to obtain the health officer position in the department which pays $98,838, according to city’s payroll data. Persaud alleged in the suit that he finished first in the civil service exam, and therefore he ought to have been hired as the health officer not Weigle.
The suit mentions that Jose “Joey” Torres, former city mayor and current mayor elect, had informed Persaud in 2009 that he would be placed in the desired position; however, Torres lost the election and Jeffery Jones, city’s current mayor, took over.
In 2010, Jones’s administration indicated that they would also place him at the higher paying job. However, after several meetings with Charles Thomas, business administrator, and Donna Nelson-Ivy, director of the health department, Persaud was told to take an almost $100,000 position for $80,000.
Persaud raised objections to the lower salary at which point the administration changed its mind.
The initial suit also sheds unflattering light on Nelson-Ivy stating that she’s been “hostile, disrespectful and intimidating” towards Persaud. And she falsely accused him of “incompetency,” “failure to perform duties,” “insubordination and conduct unbecoming a public employee.”
The judges ordered the commission to “consider Persaud’s appeal in light of the Paterson residency requirement.”