City officials approved the payout of $97,000 to settle a lawsuit that stemmed from retaliatory measures taken against Joan Chisolm, a city employee, by the administration of former mayor Jeffery Jones following the controversial overtime scandal that rocked the city in 2011.
Chisolm alleged employment discrimination and retaliation in her lawsuit filed in the New Jersey Superior Court. She also alleged civil rights violations and disability discrimination, according to a snippet within the resolution approving the settlement.
Chisolm’s trouble began when she refused to sign-off on time sheets for Lanisha Makle, former director of Community Development Department, without supporting documentation to substantiate 105 hours of hurricane Irene overtime. Chisolm later testified against Makle during the city council’s overtime hearings.
Makle re-assigned Chisolm to other duties in the department following the hearing. In 2013, Makle filed disciplinary charges against Chisolm for absenteeism. The Jones administration also sought Chisolm’s removal through the Civil Service Commission.
“Joan Chisolm is a hero in my opinion. A woman who would not be intimidated into falsifying time-sheets,” said David Gilmore, open government activist.
Gilmore praised Chisolm for her integrity and courage.
“[Chisolm] stood in the way of corruption protecting the taxpayers’ interest and she got retaliated against,” said Gilmore. The activist urged council members to approve the settlement prior to their special meeting on Tuesday evening.
The Jones administration succeeded in pushing Chisolm out of her job; however, she was later allowed to return to her post as accounting clerk. She is currently employed with the city as principal accounting clerk.
Council members approved the settlement following a closed door meeting without public discussion.
“She’s been treated unfairly, unkindly, and unjustly,” said Gilmore.