A federal judge has dismissed a municipal employee’s discrimination lawsuit seeking $2.5 million in damages.
Migdalia Salcedo-Romano sued the city in 2017. She alleged the city discriminated against her based on her ethnic heritage, denied her advancement, and issued a negative performance evaluation on dubious grounds.
Romano, who represented herself in the case, could not back up her claims with evidence in court.
U.S. district judge Claire Cecchi dismissed the lawsuit on Mar. 29 because Romano “failed to allege sufficient facts” in the case.
Cecchi reviewed each of Romano’s claims
Romano, who worked as a receptionist at the personnel division, claims the city did not consider her for three jobs — personnel officer, assistant personnel director, and a vacant bilingual clerk position. She was also involuntarily transferred to another department.
She could not present sufficient facts to assert she qualified for the positions.
Romano “alleges that she was denied the job opportunities of personnel officer and assistant personnel director. However, Plaintiff was admittedly not qualified for the position of personnel officer because, as Plaintiff denotes, an applicant must hold the position of clerk to be accepted for a personnel officer position,” wrote the judge in her opinion. “Because Plaintiff was a receptionist at the time of her application, she was not qualified. Plaintiff was also denied the assistant personnel director position, but does not allege that she was qualified nor does she explain the qualifications for the position and merely states that Levenson told her she did not have the required experience.”
Romano claims she was not offered to fill a vacant clerk positions despite being qualified. However, former personnel director Abby Levenson offered Romano a clerk position in 2016, but she rejected the offer.
Romano states in her lawsuit she was transferred out of the personnel division in discriminatory move.
“While transfers are not automatically exempt from classification as an adverse employment action, Plaintiffs interdepartmental transfer accompanied with a pay raise does not constitute an adverse employment action,” wrote Cecchi.
Romano also alleged Levenson laughed at her when she spoke English with a Spanish accent.
“While the allegation that Levenson laughed at Plaintiffs accent may be construed as discriminatory, Plaintiff provides no other facts to support her conclusory claim that Defendant’s conduct was motivated by an improper discriminatory animus,” wrote the judge.
On Monday afternoon, Romano was reached for comments by the Paterson Times at the Health and Human Services Department. She answered the phone, identified herself, but quickly hung up when a reporter identified himself and sought her comments for this story.
Upon re-dialing, a second employee, Margarita Padilla, answered the phone. She claimed Romano was “not in.”
Romano was hired by the city in 2014. Her salary is $31,200, according to payroll data.