City balks at settling police officers’ hostile work environment lawsuit for $250,000 | Paterson Times

City balks at settling police officers’ hostile work environment lawsuit for $250,000


The city council refused to settle a hostile work place lawsuit filed by two city police officers for $250,000.

Police officers Alvaro Mejia and James Durkin alleged their civil liberties were violated in a lawsuit that was filed on September 9th, 2004.

Council members held a closed-door meeting to discuss the case during a January 6th, 2015 special meeting, after which, the governing body refused to consider approving the $250,000 settlement.

“From 1999 and continuing until the present time,” Mejia and Durkin “have been subject to repeated incidents of harassment,” reads the suit. The two police officers, both holding sergeant rank at the time of the case, alleged in their suit that police brass subjected them to interrogations “for the sole purpose of harassing.”

The officers’ suit alleges a laundry list of alleged constitutional violation by high ranking police department employees: police brass allegedly did not thoroughly investigate and review incidents of “improper conduct by co-workers, subordinates and supervisors.”

The city allegedly released personal information of the officers violating their privacy rights, according to court documents. The officers also allege police brass refused to provide awards, recognitions, and commendations earned by the officers.

Officers were also allegedly the target of “baseless” and “false” rumors that were circulated to tarnish their reputation in the department. The two sergeants also did not receive enough support to fulfill their duties alleges the suit: “back up and support entitled” to them as “senior patrol officers” was not being provided by the department, reads the suit.

Mejia and Durkin were also allegedly told to produce medical records that other employees in similar roles were not asked to provide. The two officers were also allegedly subjected to requests that “other similarly situated employees are not subject to,” according to the suit.

The suit names then public safety director William Dolan, mayor Jose “Joey” Torres, and other department employees.

Durkin is no longer employed with the city, according to city records; Mejia remains employed with the department at a salary of $89,000.

“The action of” the police brass “demonstrate a clear pattern of threatening, malicious and vindictive conduct, intentional and regular, which has been open, notorious, continuous and cumulative for 5 years, without abatement and continues to this day,” reads the suit. “The overall scenario has created and perpetuated a hostile work environment.”