The city is paying $80,000 to fire captain Salvatore Brigati after he filed a lawsuit alleging former fire chief Michael Postorino retaliated against him.
Members of the City Council agreed to settle Brigati’s lawsuit on Tuesday night.
Brigati alleges he faced “escalating level of retaliation and harassment” at the hand of Postorino from 2006-17. His suit states, in 2003-4, then-battalion chief Postorino wanted to purchase a property he owned at a reduced price, but Brigati refused to sell.
In 2008, Postorino, now chief, allegedly asked him and another firefighter, Dante DeStefano, to join him in his residential kitchen cabinet installation business, according to the suit. Both men refused the chief’s offer. However, the lawsuit states, DeStefano later accepted an offer to work for the chief at the cabinet business.
Brigati alleges soon thereafter he began to face retaliation. He was given “undesirable assignments” as a result. Since 2010, he was allegedly “transferred to undesirable positions and shifts” by Postorino.
In 2011, he was transferred to Engine 2, described in the lawsuit as the “punishment house.” He was also not granted transfers by Postorino, according to the lawsuit. Postorino also allegedly “regularly screamed” at him in front of other firefighters without justification.
“Get the f— to rehab,” Postorino once yelled at him referring to the rehabilitation area where firefighters recover after responding a blaze. The suit states Postorino also threatened Brigati by telling him he was going to be forced to enter foreclosure on his home.
Brigati filed a complaint with the city’s Affirmative Action Officer which led to Postorino allegedly engaging in a campaign of retaliation and harassment, according to the suit. He states the city “did not conduct a good faith, thorough investigation” of his complaint.
Former business administrator Charles Thomas indicated to Brigati in a letter his complaints were “unsubstantiated,” according to the suit.
Brigati made many requests to transfer from his current assignment to elsewhere, but was denied each time, states the suit.
A judge partially dismissed Brigati’s case in Jul. 2018. His allegation of civil rights and New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act violations were dismissed.
The settlement was approved in a 6-1 vote on Tuesday night.
Brigati has been working as a firefighter for the city 23 years, according to payroll records.
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