City pays out $215,000 to settle hostile workplace lawsuit | Paterson Times

City pays out $215,000 to settle hostile workplace lawsuit


After refusing to settle a hostile workplace lawsuit brought against the city by two police sergeants earlier in the year, the city council on Tuesday evening approved $215,000 to settle the federal lawsuit filed by Alvaro Mejia and James Durkin.

Mejia and Durkin sued over a laundry list of harassment allegation that included police brass subjecting them to interrogations “for the sole purpose of harassing,” according to the complaint filed in September 9th, 2004.

The two were also overlooked for earned awards, recognitions, and commendations, according to the lawsuit. Personal information about Mejia and Durkin was also released in violation of their privacy rights.

The lawsuit which names then-public safety director William Dolan, mayor Jose “Joey” Torres, and other department employees, also states police brass did not provide the two sergeants adequate “back up” and support to fulfill their duties.

“Improper conduct by co-workers, subordinates and supervisors” brought to the attention of the supervisors by Mejia and Durkin never received thorough investigation or review, according to the lawsuit.

Much of the harassment began in 1999 and continued to 2004, according to the lawsuit. During that period, Mejia and Durkin were subjected to “baseless” and “false” rumors that were spread to tarnish their reputation in the department, states the lawsuit.

Durkin no longer works at the city, according to city records. Mejia remains as a police officer with a salary of $89,292, according to city records.

Council members in January of this year balked at settling the matter for $250,000; however, during Tuesday’s special meeting the governing body in a narrow 5-4 vote approved the settlement following a closed-door meeting.

Council members William McKoy, Alex Mendez, Kenneth Morris, and Julio Tavarez voted against the settlement.

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