Mayor Christopher Siciliano downplays the allegations as greed and politics
In a law suit filed on April 22, Meredith Nelson, the Deputy Director of Finance of Ocean Township, alleged that her supervisor, Stephen Gallagher (no relation to the editor of this website), the Director of Finance and Chief Financial Officer of the Township, habitually harassed her and other female employees of the Township.
Ms Nelson charges that the Township Manager, Michael Muscillo, took no action when she first brought the situation to his attention last August, six months into her employment, other than ordering her to take a “pre-employment drug test. When she complained of the ongoing harassment again in January of this year, Gallagher retaliated by ceasing all communication with her, “intentionally ignoring her existence,” thereby preventing her from doing her job. Three months latter, in March, Gallagher met with Nelson and and Muscillo to deliver a 12 page employment improvement plan which included instructions on which calculator to use, where her computer monitor and other business equipment was to be placed in her work area and instructions to seek certification as a Tax Collector…a position she explicitly declined in her pre-employment negotiations with the Township.
Nelson charges that she specifically did not want to deal with tax collections for the Township “because a Township employee told Plaintiff that Defendant Gallagher regularly orders the Tax Department to remove certain friends of the community off the tax sale list at the request of certain members of the governing body.
(Continued below the copy of the lawsuit)
E-filed Complaint and Jury … by on Scribd
Nelson alleges that Gallagher regularly demeans female employees to the township, calling them “bitches,” and denigrates their physical appearance by referring to their “kankles.”
In December of last year, Gallagher, in front of Nelson and other employees at work, reenacted a man beating his girlfriend and laughing about it, according to the suit. This occurred around the time of the highly publicized incident of Kansas City Chief player Kareem Hunt beating a women in a similar fashion of the Ray Rice incident.
Nelson alleges that Gallagher interfered with her, and other female employees, taking personal time to which they are entitled to care for sick family members, and that he prevented her from accomplishing her work from home while she was caring for a sick family member.
Nelson states that she left a job as Director of Finance and Chief Financial Officer of Hazlet, despite Gallagher’s unprofessional reputation, based upon representations from the Township that Gallagher was soon to retire and that she would be his replacement in Ocean Township.
When reached for comment, Mayor Christopher Siciliano stated that he shouldn’t comment on litigation and then went on to blame the suit on “Republicans” and to imply that Nelson’s complaints are frivolous and that she is looking for a pay day.
“Its a law suit,” Siciliano said. “They (Nelson and her husband, Brian Nelson) are looking for a $400,000 settlement or what ever they want. And they are all Republicans. Gallagher is a Republican, Meredith is Republican, you know who her husband is, and their attorneys are Republican.”
Asked who, if anyone on the governing body instructed Gallagher to have friends removed from the tax sale list, Siciliano said, “Probably a Republican.” Then he said, “It didn’t happen. They’re throwing s**t at the wall hoping something sticks to fatten their settlement check. It’s all bulls**t.”
Nelson’s husband, Brian, is a partner at Archer, former Archer Greiner, a prominent law firm with offices in Red Bank, Haddonfield, Princeton, Hackensack, and Flemington in New Jersey. They also have offices in Philadelphia, PA, Wilmington, Delaware and New York City.Brian is the managing partner of the Red Bank office, the Township Attorney of Middletown, a Special Counsel and former Director of Law for Tinton Falls, as well as counsel for many other municipalities and agencies throughout New Jersey.
Brian Nelson issued the following statement upon learning of Siciliano’s comments about the lawsuit:
“I believe the Mayor’s comments are demonstrative of the cavalier attitude the Township has taken towards serious occurrences of sexual harassment and gender based discrimination that would not be tolerated by members of any governing body that I have ever represented, let alone commented about in this fashion.”