Hoboken parking enforcement officer claims supervisors sexually harassed her: suit

Hoboken parking enforcement officer claims supervisors sexually harassed her: suit

Monday, November 28, 2011 Jersey Journal

A Hoboken Parking Utility (HPU) employee is suing the utility and two of her supervisors on charges of sexual harassment.

Parking enforcement officer Catherine Stewart said in a civil complaint filed this week with the state superior court that since she began working at the utility in July 2010, she has been subjected to harassment by two employees. She also claims agency officials turned a blind eye to their lewd behavior.

Stewart says that her supervisor Hector Mojica made "direct obscene and vulgar sexual comments" even before he was in a position of authority, according to the lawsuit.

When she refused his advances, he pulled strings to give her less desirable positions (working on the street instead of in a vehicle), took away scheduled overtime hours and threatened to fire her, the suit says.

In contrast, he rewarded female employees who were receptive to his advances, the suit says.

Stewart said others also did not respond well to the "culture of sexual harassment" in the utility and complained to Director Ian Sacs in Dec. 2010, only to be "sent back to the source of their complaints," the suit says.

She accused Sacs of "willful indifference," saying he stood by although he "knew or should have known" that Mojica was harassing her, the suit says.

Sacs declined to comment, saying he was not allowed to discuss personnel issues.

On or around Oct. 28, Stewart, her union representative and HPU representatives were supposed to meet to address her complaints and resolve the situation. The HPU cancelled the meeting, however, and did not reschedule, the suit says.

Stewart is also suing another supervisor, Robert Orsini, who she says repeatedly sexually harassed her and other female employees, the suit says.

On or around Nov. 9, she says Orsini approached her in the HPU room at City Hall and attempted to mount her, putting his crotch in her face, the suit says.

When she said, "That's disgusting!" he laughed and walked away, the suit says.

Mayor Dawn Zimmer said Wednesday that the city had not yet been served the suit. She emphasized that all city employees must take anti-sexual harassment training. She added that an affirmative action officer in their legal department helps employees who report instances of harassment.

"Let me make it very clear - we take any allegations of sexual harassment extremely seriously," she said.

Mojica did not return multiple calls for comment.

An individual answered a call to a phone number listed under Orsini's name Wednesday and confirmed it the right Orsini's number. After learning about the allegations against Orsini, however, the person said, "Sexual harassment! Robert? No!" but then denied knowing him and said he did not live there.

The lawsuit accuses the HPU, Mojica and Orsini of creating a hostile work environment, negligent supervision, unlawful retaliation, harassment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.


Comments (0)

New comments are currently disabled.

Email to Friend

Fill in the form below to send this article to a friend:

Email to Friend
* Your Name:
* Your Email:
* Friend's Name:
* Friend's Email:
* Security Image:
Security Image Generate new
Copy the numbers and letters from the security image
* Message: