Borough seeking dismissal of sexual discrimination lawsuit

Bradley Beach Borough Hall. FILE PHOTO

BRADLEY BEACH — An attorney representing the borough in a sexual discrimination lawsuit filed by Borough Administrator Kelly Barrett claims that she was “never entitled to an ‘ideal workplace’  free of criticism of her job performance.”

In a brief supporting a motion to dismiss the case Kevin Riordan, of Toms River, who is representing the Borough of Bradley Beach and Councilmen Randy Bonnell and John Weber, said that the behavior of his clients did not violate the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination [NJLAD] statute. 

“NJLAD prohibits discrimination for many reasons. It does not, however, require that the people that you work with are nice to you,” the brief said, which was filed on Sept. 11. The matter is being decided in the Superior Court of Monmouth County, in Freehold. 

An attorney for Ms. Barrett, Nicole M. Crismale, of the firm Peter C. Lucas in Oakhurst, filed a complaint against the borough and the two councilmen on Aug. 19. 

The complaint alleged that Mr. Bonnell “engaged in a course of hostile and harassing conduct” designed to undermine her authority as borough administrator and “exhibited overbearing behavior effectively micromanaging Ms. Barrett” by “inundating her with emails on an almost daily basis related to routine day-to-day operations and her job performance.”

It also alleges that Mr. Weber sought to undermine Mr. Barrett’s position as borough administrator because, “a male was not placed in that position.”

Ms. Barrett, of Ocean Township, is a long-time employee of the borough, having served as a court administrator for 25 years before being appointed to the role of borough clerk in 2016. 

In 2017, the borough council merged the roles of borough clerk and administrator. She was appointed as borough administrator in 2017 by a 3-2 vote by the borough council.

Both Mr. Weber and Mr.Bonnell both voted against her appointment. According to the complaint filed by Ms. Barrett’s attorney, the councilmen “sought the appointment of a younger, male candidate, rather than a female in that role.”

His client’s actions towards Ms. Barrett, Mr. Riordan’s brief stated, “had nothing to do with her sex” but instead were instead allegedly focused on the administrator’s “poor performance of her job duties.”

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