Belmar settles age bias lawsuit filed by three lifeguards

Pay raises for lifeguards are on factor cited in Belmar's increased beach fees. FILE PHOTO

BELMAR– The borough has struck a truce with three veteran lifeguards who had sued the borough for age discrimination, with two being hired back and one retiring.

The decision to settle the suit was approved during the Feb. 5 borough council meeting, with the borough agreeing to pay Harry Harsin, 56, Timothy O’Donnell, 73, and Ray Elms, 63, $120,000 in total.

All three men were offered their jobs back, with Mr. Harsin accepting a deal to return as the head of the borough’s beach patrol and Mr. O’Donnell returning as a member of the patrol. Mr. Elms has chosen to retire.

“We’re ecstatic this is resolved, it was never about the money. It was about the principal,” Mr. Harsin said.

“We are happy to put it behind us and not dwell on the past but concentrate on the future.”

The three lifeguards, who combined have a total of 120 years of beach rescue experience, where not rehired by the borough for the first time at the start of 2018.

The borough council chambers were packed during the meetings with fellow lifeguards, who cheered the reinstatement of Mr. Harsin after the borough approved the settlement.

Emotions ran high as Mr. Harsin’s daughter, Page, had surprised her father by coming back to town from Florida to watch her father be reinstated.

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