Overlooked and mistreated, health department employee gets salary bump after lawsuit | Paterson Times Paterson Times

Overlooked and mistreated, health department employee gets salary bump after lawsuit

By Jayed Rahman
Published: October 1, 2014


A lawsuit stemming from the city’s health director’s mistreatment of an employee was settled on Tuesday evening after the city council initially balked at the settlement prospects during its workshop meeting last week.

Thakur “Paul” Persaud, the employee, who alleged in his suit not only mistreatment from Donna Nelson-Ivy, the city’s health director, but alleged he was overlooked for a promotion despite being the most qualified candidate.

Council members approved to pay out $45,000 and increase Persaud’s salary from $51,000 to $75,000 to settle the suit. Last week council members voted down the resolution because of the salary increase; however, this week, the resolution tucked inside the consent agenda, where routine items fall, passed without raising any concerns or questions.

Persaud, who serves presently as a program manager at the city’s health department, attempted to obtain health officer position, but despite coming out on top in the civil service exam, Nelson-Ivy passed him over for promotion.

Instead of hiring Persaud for the position, Nelson-Ivy went with Trevor Weigle, who had, according to the city, health officer experience. Three appeal court judges slammed the city for breaking its own residency ordinance by hiring non-city-resident Weigle. Persaud is a city resident.

Judges Ellen Koblitz, Clarkson Fisher, and Marianne Espinosa expressed dismay in their opinion deciding the case. The judges considered Persaud’s decades of health care experience. “Yet, these extensive qualifications, including a medical degree, Master’s degree, a Health Officer license, and twenty-five years of healthcare experience, came in second, in the eyes of the City, to the fact that Weigle was temporarily assigned to the post,” read the judgment.

Persaud’s suit highlights some of the maltreatment he was subjected to at the department. The suit sheds unflattering light on Nelson-Ivy stating that she’s been “hostile, disrespectful and intimidating” towards Persaud. And she falsely accused him of “incompetency,” “failure to perform duties,” “insubordination and conduct unbecoming a public employee.”

Nelson-Ivy’s departmental practices, which resulted in the suit, were also brought to light in recent news articles describing the hiring of her sister-in-law despite unambiguous rules prohibiting such a practice.

Nelson-Ivy’s decision led to the firing of a long time department employee.

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