City officials on Tuesday evening approved $350,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit brought forth by former city fire captain Joseph Parkin who was allegedly overlooked for promotion because he was not a minority.
Parkin’s lawsuit states on September 10th, 2010 at about 11:30 a.m. he was told he would be made battalion chief during a ceremony to take place at 5 p.m. the same day. At about 3 p.m. he learned he was not going to be receiving the promotion because former mayor Jeffery Jones had “issues” with the promotions, alleged Parkin’s suit in the New Jersey Superior Court.
Parkin’s suit states fire chief Michael Postorino, who obtained necessary state approvals for the promotions, was asked by Jones whether the list which included several names for promotion had any minorities, when told no, Jones is alleged to have remarked: “Why would I promote someone off a list that does not include any minorities?”
Jones’ move sparked several lawsuits which were settled by promoting the respective firefighters to battalion chief posts.
Parkin’s settlement was approved in a 5-3 vote in the council. The city will pay Parkin’s settlement amount in installments: first $150,000 will be paid within 30 days; the next $100,000 will be paid within one-year of the first payment; and the final $100,000 will be paid one-year after the second payment, according to city records.
“It certainly was an avoidable administrative error,” said William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman, before casting his vote to approve the settlement. “As a result of that error the taxpayers now will be saddled with this payment.”
McKoy said the council has little choice but to approve the settlement to prevent further loss for taxpayers.
“The person who is responsible for it should have been held personally liable,” remarked Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large. He said former Jones should have been made part of the lawsuit.
Morris voted against the settlement. Alex Mendez, councilman at-large, also voted against.
Julio Tavarez, 5th Ward councilman, was absent.
“The citizens of Paterson have to pick up the tab for this one,” said Ruby Cotton, 4th Ward councilwoman, prior to casting her vote against the settlement.