A Hudson County Superior Court judge has denied a motion to reinstate two defendants and add another to Bayonne Business Administrator Melissa Mathews’ gender discrimination lawsuit.
On April 1, 2021, Mathews filed suit against the city and a number of officials, alleging a hostile work environment at City Hall, among other claims.
On Aug. 12, 2021, the counts against three defendants were dismissed from the suit by Judge Kimberly Espinales-Maloney, including former Assistant Business Administrator Mark Bonamo, former Director of Municipal Services Tim Boyle, and Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Eduardo Ferrante. Some counts against other defendants including Mayor James Davis, Law Director Jay Coffey, Assistant City Attorney Donna Russo, and the city of Bayonne were also dismissed.
Some of the counts against Boyle and Bonamo were dismissed without prejudice, allowing Mathews to re-file an amended complaint. She did so on Nov. 17, seeking to reinstate Boyle and Bonamo and add Chief Financial Officer Donna Mauer to the case.
The defendants opposed the motion, arguing it should be denied as futile. And on Jan. 21, Judge Marybeth Rogers denied Mathews’ motion to file an amended complaint.
‘Some degree of authority needed’
In regards to the count of hostile work environment against Boyle and Bonamo, Rogers echoed some sentiment from the previous ruling by Espinales-Maloney. According to Rogers, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) requires the alleged harasser to exercise some degree of authority delegated by the employer to create a hostile work environment.
“There is no case law presented before this Court to hold an employee, who was not a supervisor of the plaintiff, liable under the NJLAD,” Rogers wrote. “Plaintiff attempts to argue in the reply brief that although Tim Boyle is not her supervisor, he is a Director within the City and can be held liable under the NJLAD. The Court cannot justify such an expansive interpretation of the statute.”
Rogers also denied Mauer be added to the suit under two counts of retaliation, stating that Mathews did not allege that Mauer “exercised her supervisory authority” over her to violate NJLAD.
“Since Plaintiff does not allege in any form that Defendant Mauer exercised her supervisory authority over Plaintiff, Count II based on NJLAD is not permitted for the reasons discussed above,” Rogers wrote.
Rogers added that the claims in the lawsuit did not support allegations of violations of the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA).
“Despite the liberal interpretation of the CEPA statute, there is simply nothing in the Amended Complaint alleged against Defendant Mauer that constitutes a claim under CEPA,” Rogers wrote. “Plaintiff does not identify, in any way, what she disclosed, or threatened to disclose, what she believed to be employer’s illegal activity, policy or practice. Under what was submitted to the Court, there is no fact alleged to support Plaintiff’s CEPA claims.”
Case still active
While the motion to file the amended complaint was rejected, the case is still active with a few counts still remaining against Davis, Coffey, Russo, and the city of Bayonne.
In response to the rulings, Coffey told the Bayonne Community News that city officials do not comment on active litigation per city policy.
Meanwhile, Mathews said: “Civil litigation is a long process.”
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at email@example.com.