When trouble happens and victims need help, people are taught to put their faith in the police. However, sometimes public servants do not live up to expectations or abide by principles. The municipality of Princeton, New Jersey recently announced a settlement to answer publicly reported charges of discrimination and harassment aimed at law enforcement. It was a serious blow to a town that would rather be known for housing an Ivy League institution than a police force consumed by fear, mistrust, and bad choices.
The settlement of nearly $4 million will be paid to seven police officers. Each offer claims their former chief of police created a hostile work environment that lasted for many years. Exact settlement figures differ per recipient, ranging from $100,000 to $1.3 million. This case sends a clear message that no one, even persons of authority, is free from the responsibility to treat employees and coworkers with the respect they legally and ethically deserve.
The Case Against the Chief
What led to this significant settlement? The Princeton police chief, at the center of the harassment and discrimination case, allegedly used his position to create an atmosphere of hostility among team members. Specifically, the chief is alleged to have used derogatory slurs against gay police officers. Additionally, he supposedly talked openly about his own sexual relations, at the same time asking officers to talk about theirs. He is also accused of threatening former colleagues with job termination if they ever spoke out against him.
By 2013, he retired from the Princeton Police Department in the midst of allegations made against him by the police union. According to news reports, he signed an agreement with the town of Princeton at the time, removing his right and the town’s right to litigate further on the allegations. Neither side can talk openly about the agreement that led to his retirement.
The Problems of a Hostile Work Environment
The Princeton police officers who worked in an atmosphere of hostility experienced what other employees do in similar situations. Not only does an environment of discrimination lead to lowered trust and higher stress, but it eventually lowers productivity levels. At the same time, being at the receiving end of humiliation can result in long-term emotional issues. Consequently, hostile workplace environment settlements often reflect victim pain and suffering.
South Jersey Employment Lawyers at the Burnham Law Group, LLC Fight for Victims of Workplace Harassment
Employees have the right to do their jobs in workplaces free from sexual harassment and discrimination. If you have suffered from a hostile work environment in New Jersey, please contact the South Jersey employment lawyers at the Burnham Law Group, LLC. For a free initial consultation, complete an online form. Located in Somers Point and Marlton, New Jersey, we serve clients across South Jersey, including Camden County, Burlington County, and Atlantic County.