A New Jersey township agreed to pay $235,000 to an ex-court administrator who said a co-worker squirted breast milk on her in a “sexually hostile workplace.”
NJ Civil Settlements first reported on the August 21, 2018, payout last week. Cheryl Jeannette, 51, filed a lawsuit against Belleville Township in 2015, alleging she was subjected to a “hostile environment” that resulted in her resignation a year earlier.
Jeannette accused two female co-workers of dating local police officers and divulging intimate details of their sex lives, alleging that their relationships with the officers led to the Township giving them “preferential treatment.” She alleged the two women would call her “puta,” a Spanish slur which loosely translates to “slut.”
In an example of what the lawsuit reportedly characterized as a sexually hostile workplace, Jeannette referred to a 2009 incident in which a co-worker reportedly exposed her breast and “excreted breast milk on her.” She said the co-worker was given a light punishment and was briefly transported to Belleville’s Code Enforcement Department before she was reassigned to the town’s municipal court and promoted to acting deputy court administrator.
The former court administrator claimed her salary was cut for assisting in a probe involving her two co-workers. She was threatened that “she would never be promoted to municipal court administrator on a permanent basis” if she spoke out against the employees, according to the lawsuit.
Jeanette said she obliged and was promoted to municipal court administrator. However, one of the co-workers reportedly filed a racial discrimination and harassment complaint against her in February 2013, leading to her suspension and demotion.
The lawsuit claimed the investigation was “one-sided” and “shoddy” and resulted in Jeanette’s resignation in September 2014.
The 51-year-old alleged she suffered emotional distress, lost wages, and damage to her reputation in addition to the loss of her seniority benefits. The lawsuit went on to accuse Belleville Township of “willful indifference to discrimination and retaliation.”
In addition to the large payout, the township agreed to provide lifetime health benefits for the 30-year employee. The township didn’t admit guilt despite last year’s settlement.
[Featured image: Belleville Municipal Court/Google Images]