October 28, 2021

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University district pays $55K to settle gay employee’s harassment statements

A South Jersey university district has compensated an personnel $55,000 to settle a lawsuit in which he claimed he was harassed and discriminated against as a gay person and a foster parent, like getting instructed by co-workers that he wanted to “find a woman” and that he was not a “real father or mother.”

Joseph Longo III sued the Salem Town Faculty District in 2018 alleging violations of the New Jersey Regulation Towards Discrimination, citing harassment primarily based on sexual orientation and familial standing and gender stereotype discrimination.

Longo, who has been employed by the district for far more than 20 yrs and is a social worker with the kid examine group, is explained in the lawsuit as a “homosexual male” and a foster parent.

His foster parenting was the basis for the discrimination alleged in the lawsuit, which was submitted in point out Top-quality Court docket.

Soon soon after telling Pamela Bates-Thomas, district director of Unique Services, in 2016 that he was taking classes to grow to be a foster mother or father, Bates-Thomas and Dale Garner, the district’s transition coordinator, started creating disparaging opinions, in accordance to the go well with.

All those remarks, which were being built commonly, included, “You do not will need foster young ones, you want to come across a lady and have children with a woman,” and “You don’t need young children, just get another pet,” according to the accommodate.

The two allegedly advised that given that Longo was a single man he didn’t know what he was carrying out. They also encouraged Longo to drop the foster kids off at the state Division of Small children and Households place of work since he “did not have to have this.”

After discovering that two foster children experienced not long ago remaining his property, Dr. Billy Slaughter, the university psychologist, allegedly said, “I hope you figured out your lesson, you don’t will need any small children.”

When he took in a new foster child in May well 2017 and the youngster turned ill, Longo took a working day off from get the job done for a vacation to the health practitioner.

When he returned the up coming day with a doctor’s be aware and submitted a request to use a family members personal working day, Bates-Thomas told him she would not approve the spouse and children particular working day since he did not “deserve it” and suggested he use a unwell working day rather.

She allegedly went on to claim that Longo “was not a genuine parent” and informed him he “needed to opt for between remaining a foster parent and his vocation,” the match states.

Bates-Thomas submitted Longo’s ask for to the superintendent, Dr. Amiot Patrick Michel, and Longo was requested to deliver district officials with his guardianship paperwork.

Michel then began inquiring Longo “invasive and harassing inquiries, this kind of as regardless of whether he intended to adopt this baby and also asked if he was currently being paid out to just take care of the boy or girl.”

The superintendent allegedly told Longo that he was not a “real parent” if he was paid to treatment for a foster little one.

Longo was then advised his family members individual day request had been denied and that he need to post a new variety to use a own working day.

Bates-Thomas allegedly informed Longo that he was not entitled to the same legal rights as an adoptive/pure guardian mainly because, “Arrangements can be produced to return the child to the business, which would not take place if it is your own child.”

In court docket papers previously submitted in reaction to the fit, the district said the loved ones day Longo sought was not authorized underneath his union deal. Also, “all of (the district’s) steps have been based on authentic, non-retaliatory and non-discriminatory enterprise good reasons.”

In addition to the foster treatment situation, Longo alleged in the fit that Bates-Thomas created disparaging remarks about the LGBT club that had not long ago been created at the district significant college.

She informed Longo, “I can’t imagine they have this club” and, pertaining to a different employee’s involvement in the team, reported, “She likes those people LGBT’s” and “She demands to target on the young children instead of that silly LGBT stuff,” the match claimed.

Less than the settlement, which was reached in Oct and initially reported by open community records advocate John Paff, the district admited no wrongdoing and Longo agreed to drop all related statements towards the district.

Longo been given $29,135.88 of the settlement figure, although his attorney, Costello & Mains, LLC, gained $25,864.12.

Longo referred queries about the settlement to his lawyer. The lawyer and district officers did not straight away respond to requests for remark.

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Matt Gray may possibly be reached at [email protected].