After working for seven months in mayor Jose “Joey” Torres’ office Christina Dayman was unceremoniously fired.
“Pack your bags and leave,” she recalled the mayor telling her in late April during yet another disciplinary hearing. “Get out. You’re done.”
Torres would not confirm that incident. “I didn’t fire her,” he said. “She resigned.”
“What the mayor has been doing is he’s been playing games,” said Dayman. “I tried to apply for unemployment. Unemployment declined to even give me unemployment because they said I quit. I never quit. I was fired.”
Dayman provided a disqualification letter from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development which stated that she will be “disqualified until you have worked eight or more weeks in employment and have earned at least ten times your weekly benefit rate.”
She said she was baffled by the letter, for she has worked for seven months.
Kerri Gatling, spokeswoman for the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, said she could not share information about individual claims.
Dayman is appealing the department’s decision. Her appeal notice lists issues involved deals with voluntary leaving, discharge for misconduct, and discharge for severe misconduct. She denies having been involved in any sort of misconduct.
City officials did not mention any misconduct done by Dayman. She suspects city officials maybe pulling the strings to further inflict punishment upon her.
“When I started speaking up about the treatments and all these things I had to endure and I put it in writing my job was terminated,” said Dayman. She sent a lengthy four-page letter to Torres dated April 21st, 2015, that listed the various problems she has been experiencing at the office.
That letter reveals the bitter politics that takes place behind the scene inside Torres’ office as one employee sets up another for failure. Patricia Cabrera, an administrative secretary, features permanently in the letter.
Cabrera is accused of providing wrong documents to Dayman for her assignments. “Just like your 100 days [reference to Torres’ 100 days in office event], Patricia gives me wrong docs and tells me to do it & then when its wrong it makes me look bad,” reads the letter.
The administrative secretary used Dayman, states the letter, to make personal phone calls to the Eastern Christian High School, where Cabrera’s son attends school. Dayman said she also had to charge Cabrera’s cell phone, grab sodas for her.
Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large, expressed concern, after hearing the allegation that Cabrera used Dayman to make a phone call to the school.
“I’m not going to respond to anything,” said Cabrera when contacted for comments on Monday. She then said she will consult with her attorney before responding.
Dayman cites another incident where Cabrera sent her an assignment at 5:20 p.m. The next morning Cabrera accused her of insubordination, she said.
“I leave at 4:30 p.m.,” said Dayman.
Incidents like this often resulted in Cabrera complaining to the mayor which in turn resulted in Dayman being subjected to disciplinary measures.
Cabrera wasn’t the only employee engaging in hostilities at the office, said Dayman. She also lists Alana Onorato, who she said, fumbled three employees’ civil service exams in an email mishap.
Onorato sent an email informing the three employees, including Dayman, about the civil service exams, on October 27th, 2014. Minutes later, she sent another email, “Please discard. Sent in error.”
Dayman said this deprived the three employees of a chance to take the exams and obtain civil service protection, which allows employees to carry out governmental functions without worrying about political repercussions.
When asked whether she intentionally sabotaged the examination announcement. Onorato said, “I didn’t.”
Asked about the work relation between her and Dayman, Onorato said, “I don’t think that concerns you or the newspaper.”
Dayman said she has gone above and beyond for the city. She said when hundreds of city students descended on city hall for an autism march, the mayor was wholly unprepared. She said Torres’ aide Omar Rodriguez calmed the crowd outside the city hall building and she produced the proclamation which ended up saving the day for the mayor.
She said she also won second place for the mayor’s office during a Saturday park clean up at Pennington Park. “Not one time did the mayor say ‘Hey you did a great job,’” she said. “No matter what I did it was always completely frowned upon.”
It remains unclear whether any action was taken against any of the employees after Dayman sent the letter to the mayor.
When pressed with questions Torres hung up the phone.
Andre Sayegh, 6th Ward councilman, feared this could result in yet another lawsuit against the city. This week the city paid $215,000 to two police officers to settle a hostile workplace lawsuit.
“I hope this doesn’t result in an another lawsuit,” said Sayegh.