Mayor Andre Sayegh’s controversial former personnel director Michele Ralph-Rawls received $29,077 in workers’ compensation payments, according to municipal records.
Ralph-Rawls began receiving workers compensation benefits beginning on September 22, 2019. Officials said she allegedly injured herself after a fall at City Hall.
Claims Resolution Corporation, the city’s third-party administrator for claims, issued payments mostly of $1,842 every two weeks from September 23, 2019 through June 19, 2020, according to records.
Sayegh hired Ralph-Rawls as personnel director in September 2018 for $84,000. Ralph-Rawls found herself in repeated controversies after arriving in Paterson. She was among a group of top-ranking officials in the Sayegh administration who were bypassing the city’s biometric system used to track employees’ work hours. She had been working remotely when no municipal policy existed allowing employees to work from home.
Ralph-Rawls also tried to collect a six percent longevity pay increase just weeks after being hired. State officials barred Paterson from giving out longevity pay increases to employees years ago. After reporting in the Paterson Times, the Sayegh administration scrapped the longevity increase.
But the mayor has re-opened the longevity controversy.
Sayegh’s administration signed off on a $8,626 retroactive longevity pay increase for Ralph-Rawls on June 12, 2020. But the City Council has refused to approve the mayor’s questionable payment to his former personnel director.
After she was hired, Sayegh extended her paid sick leave time before she became eligible for the benefit at taxpayers’ expense. He also hired her contrary to municipal ordinance that requires employees to reside in Paterson. He never obtained a residency waiver from the City Council.
Sayegh did not respond to a request for comments for this story.
Ralph-Rawls sent a letter in June to officials stating she would retire from her post beginning on July 1, 2020.
“Although brief, I have enjoyed my tenure with the City of Paterson and will certainly miss the relationships that I was able to develop during that time,” stated Ralph-Rawls’s letter to business administrator Kathleen Long.
Ralph-Rawls received $4,880 from the city in June for 99.75 hours of unused vacation time, according to records.
A phone number was not available to reach Ralph-Rawls for comments for this story.
Ralph-Rawls was one of a series of the mayor’s ill-conceived hires from East Orange. After Ralph-Rawls began working in Paterson, she hired, amid a budget crisis, a personnel officer, Jerrell Antley.
Antley, who was also from East Orange, left after 11 months.
A municipal ordinance bars the government from hiring non-residents.
Debra Hannibal is serving as the city’s acting personnel director.
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