The city has agreed to pay $75,000 on Tuesday night to settle a public works division head’s discrimination lawsuit.
Recycling coordinator Diane Polifronio accused the city and convicted former public works supervisor Joseph Mania of engaging in unlawful conduct in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.
Polifronio chronicles a series of incidents in her lawsuit filed in 2017.
On Mar. 15, 2016, Polifronio nominated a candidate for the vice president position during the union elections. Mania wanted to be vice president, but lost, according to her lawsuit. The next day, Mania allegedly posted “defamatory, vulgar, sexist comments” about her on Facebook.
Polifronio filed a complaint with the city’s Affirmative Action Office on Mar. 16, 2016. She claims the city took no actions.
On Apr. 26, 2016, Polifronio sent an email complaining about Mania interfering with her job functions at a community clean up event.
On May 20, 2016, Polifronio reported Mania’s alleged conduct to the public works office at Eastside Park. As she walked through the door with another woman, Mania allegedly called them “b—–s.”
Polifronio complained again to the city’s affirmative action officer that 60 days had passed since she filed her complaint. She alleges photos of her face were put on bodies of nude women on a pornographic website. She complained about this to Mania’s supervisor, but nothing was done, according to her lawsuit. She also claimed Mania would show up to clean communities events to “stare her down.”
On Jul. 16, 2016, the city served Mania with a disciplinary complaint. He was scheduled for an Aug. 24, 2016 hearing. He appeared at the hearing and wanted more time to hire an attorney and bring witnesses. After the hearing was adjourned, Mania allegedly posted private information about her on the internet.
Polifronio claims she became “distraught” after seeing the information Mania allegedly posted on the internet. She said she had to be admitted to a hospital for “suicidal ideations.”
On Sept. 14, 2016, a new hearing was set. The next month, Mania was suspended for 60 days and demoted, according to the lawsuit.
After Mania’s suspension things to a turn for the worse, says the lawsuit.
Polifronio claims she became a “pariah” at public works after Mania was suspended.
“I hope I am not offending you,” her male co-workers would tell her. She is the sole female division head at public works, says the lawsuit.
Dec. 2016, Polifronio found her car tires slashed in front of her home. She claims Mania is the only employee who knows her home address.
Jan. 2017, dead animals were placed near her car.
Feb. 8, 2017, Polifronio was admitted to a hospital after attempting to kill herself, says the lawsuit.
Apr. 2017, Polifronio’s son died. Mania allegedly posted on Facebook that it was “karma” and she “got what she deserved.”
Polifronio filed another complaint with the city’s Affirmative Action Office against Mania for retaliation. At the time of the lawsuit, Polifronio hadn’t been told whether an investigation was being conducted into her complaint.
The city “knew about Mania’s conduct and failed to take prompt and adequate remedial action,” Polifronio alleges in the lawsuit.
Polifronio was hired in Mar. 1990. She is no longer on the city’s payroll, according to municipal records.
Mania was convicted with two other public works supervisors and former mayor Jose “Joey” Torres in 2017. He was sentenced to three-year probation.
Council members voted 6-0 to settle the case on Tuesday night after speaking to municipal lawyers in a closed-door meeting without making any public comments.