Berkeley Township in New Jersey is facing accusations of anti-Semitism from one of its employees. The town’s recreation supervisor filed a lawsuit in Ocean County Superior Court against several of the town’s officials, including its Mayor and Administrator, alleging that she was harassed and discriminated against because she is Jewish and has a disability.
The township has denied the claims and is considering a countersuit, according to the director of the Recreation Department, also named in the suit.
The suit alleges an ongoing pattern of discrimination and says that the employee has suffered from anxiety as a result. The claim outlines numerous instances of harassment dating back to January 2017.
According to the suit, the employee’s supervisors repeatedly asked her to work on Jewish holidays, then reprimanded her when she told them that she could not; town officials also made daily anti-Semitic jokes and discriminatory comments about her Jewish faith in front of other employees. In another instance, the employee was mocked for bringing cupcakes decorated in traditional Hanukkah colors to a holiday party.
Employee Claims Lost Compensation and Job Duties Because of Religion
In addition to creating a hostile work environment, the employee alleges that her benefits were impacted, allegedly because of her religion. The discount she received for her two-year-old’s pre-school program was taken away, despite other non-Jewish employees continuing to receive it. The township also took away her compensation for her work with the Municipal Alliance, claiming it had never been authorized, despite her having done the work for 14 years. She was falsely accused of stealing municipal funds in January 2018 and had job responsibilities taken away from her in February.
In April, the employee took a leave of absence due to the anxiety caused by the alleged harassment, and all her belongings from her office were sent to her; she had to bring them back when she returned from leave.
The Township’s Response
The township has made strong statements denying the claims and accusing the employee of filing a frivolous lawsuit. The town Administrator wrote a letter defending the Mayor, stating that he had never heard him make any discriminatory statements against someone’s religion, race, or any other factor, and that they had received numerous communications from members of the community expressing their support for the administration.
He went on to accuse the employee of giving herself and another Recreation department employee a discount for a township program, while still charging others full price, stating that he terminated the discount for everyone once he found out about it.
Discrimination Protections for Employees in New Jersey
Discrimination based on religion is illegal under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). Employers have a responsibility to maintain a safe and harassment-free work environment for all their employees, regardless of their beliefs, and they are prohibited from making decisions involving hiring, firing, salary and benefits, and job responsibilities based on religion.
Ocean County Employment Discrimination Lawyers at Levine Staller Obtain Compensation for Discrimination Victims
If you have been the victim of religion-based discrimination or harassment in the workplace, call the Ocean County employment discrimination lawyers at Levine, Staller, Sklar, Chan & Brown, P.A. Our knowledgeable, experienced lawyers have successfully represented clients in all types of workplace discrimination cases, and we will aggressively defend your rights to get you the best possible result. With offices conveniently located in Atlantic City, we help employees throughout the communities of Atlantic County, Ocean County, and Cape May County. Call us today at 609-348-1300 or contact us online to discuss your case.