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New Jersey police officer takes job harassment case to court

Offensive language can be disguised as “just kidding” when the speaker realizes he or she has gone too far. When this uncomfortable situation happens in a Bergen County workplace, it’s hard to know how to react. Do you brush it off as an unfortunate incident or take action against the offensive party?

A 16-year veteran of the Sayreville police force claims a supervisor repeatedly harassed him about being gay, using slurs like ‘homo.’ The officer, who is not gay, said the name-calling caught on and spread to other officers, the public and officers in other municipalities. Then, a second problem occurred.

The long-time borough officer said he filed an internal complaint after catching an acting sergeant altering a time sheet to take credit for work hours he didn’t put in. Internal affairs ruled the harassment and falsified records’ complaints were valid. Promised disciplinary action never took place.

The employee reportedly was advised by colleagues, including the police chief, not to rock the boat. Co-workers suggested the borough officer would suffer if he filed the claim. That apparently turned out to be true.

Members of the force allegedly ostracized the man. The isolation was so pronounced the officer was forced to take a doctor-ordered leave in 2013. When the officer resumed work, the police chief ordered the employee to turn over his guns and refused to have anything to do with the subordinate.

An employment lawsuit was filed last month against the plaintiff’s slur-slinging supervisor, the sergeant who manipulated work hours and the borough. The defendants are accused of retaliation and creating a hostile work environment. The plaintiff remains on the force.

Repeated harassment can become so threatening that a Bergen County employee is afraid to go to work. The pressure applied is designed to make an employee quit. Rather than give in to workplace hostility, many employees wisely turn to an employment attorney for advice.

Source:  www.mycentraljersey.com, “Hero cop says Sayreville police department, residents ridiculed him as ‘homo, queer'” Sergio Bichao, Apr. 09, 2014

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