Public works truck driver Tyshona Kennedy has filed a lawsuit against the city and her supervisor James Maher.
Kennedy alleges Maher has subjected her to “severe and pervasive sexual harassment and gender discrimination” from Jun. through Oct. 2017, according to the lawsuit filed in New Jersey Superior Court on Monday.
Maher allegedly created a “hostile work environment” through his unwanted sexual advances.
“I love me a mean looking woman and you look mean,” Maher allegedly told her on numerous occasions. “You look sexy.”
Maher also reprimanded other male employees by shouting at them whenever any interacted with Kennedy.
“Don’t look at my woman,” he allegedly shouted at other employees.
He has asked her to go on dates with him after hours and touched her by grabbing her shoulders and hands, says the lawsuit.
On Sept. 13, 2017, Kennedy was sick and Maher told her, “I got some Jimmycillin for you, you can take it orally or take it anally, which way do you want it.”
Kennedy told him multiple times his advances were “unwelcome, offensive and embarrassing,” says the lawsuit. Maher did not stop. He smiled and laughed in her face when she told him his acts made her uncomfortable, says the lawsuit.
Maher threatened to decrease her pay if she reported the alleged sexual harassment incidents. She reported the incidents to union representatives, who did not want to be involved.
Maher allegedly made similar remarks in front of other employees in Sept., including now public works director William “Billy” Rodriguez.
Rodriguez declined to comment on Thursday citing pending litigation.
The lawsuit states the city failed to take actions against Maher.
Municipal officials said Maher was moved when the allegations first emerged. He no longer works at Eastside Park. He has been assigned to a different park.
Both employees work at the Shade Tree Division.
Kennedy reported the alleged conduct to the city’s Affirmative Action Office. An investigation found Maher guilty, says the lawsuit. But, not actions were taken against him. Instead, Kennedy was suspended in alleged retaliation for six months without pay for a “minor incident.”
She says after she reported Maher’s conduct, she no longer receives overtime assignments.
The lawsuit says Maher still frequently shows up to her work area. She claims public works upper management is “clearly unhappy with her” for complaining about the sexual harassment.
She claims as a result of the harassment she suffered emotional, psychological distress, physical injury, shortness of breath, headaches, stress, and anxiety.
She is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.
Correction (Dec. 22, 2018): A previous version of this report erroneously stated Maher was suspended for six month, when in fact, Kennedy was suspended in alleged retaliation.