contends that the other girls "could sit there and talk about
shoe sales and shopping sprees," and he would be given more work
to do when he was already busy. Id. at 59-60. "They got time
off without a hassle; I didn't. And she would take and put me on
the phone, knowing I had things that I had to get done, and not
the girls." (Cooper II Dep. at 81). She would also say things
such as, "You don't have enough to do? Go over and file."
(Cooper Dep. at 59-60).
Plaintiff maintains that he was denied overtime opportunities
involving food stamp distribution. Id. at 51; (See Ltr. from
Plt'f. to Mr. Fahy, dated May 6, 1998, Def. Br.App. B) ("Cooper
Letter"). He also complained that Ms. Bright suspected him of
having stolen food stamps and would come over to his desk,
thinking that he "had them stashed around there or something."
Id. During this time, incidentally, the fraud unit of the
Board had been conducting an investigation of disappearances of
food stamp coupons, which resulted in the discovery that two
postal employees were involved in the theft. (Fahy Dep. at 112).
Plaintiff sought out his union representatives, Jean Monihan
and Judy Ladd, and asked them "how a clerk typist can tell the
office staff what to do" Id. at 61, and also asked them to
file a formal grievance. They refused, however, stating that
because Ms. Bright was appointed to the position, "there was
nothing they could do about it." Id. In addition to this
specific complaint to his union representatives, Plaintiff
complained to the union several other times regarding his
treatment by Ms. Bright and her attitude and demeanor not only
towards him, but also toward his co-workers. (Cooper II Dep. at
93). It was generally acknowledged, however, that Ms. Bright was
"not an easy person," was "sharp in her dealings with anyone,"
and was "abrupt." (Fahy Dep. at 60).
Aside from the general friction between Plaintiff and Ms.
Bright, the first significant incident occurred on or about
February 5, 1998, when Plaintiff telephoned the office to leave
a message for Ms. Bright informing her that he would be absent
from work that day because his son was sick. Id. at 37. When
Plaintiff arrived to work the next day, Ms. Bright told him he
would have to take administrative time, in lieu of a sick day.
Id. When asked why, she told him to take up the time
classification matter with Mr. Fahy. Id.
Plaintiff was again denied administrative leave on March 3,
1998 when he asked Ed Selnick for the afternoon off to have the
tires on his car replaced because one was "ready to blow."
(Cooper II Dep. at 35-36), (Cooper Dep. at 45). Although Mr.
Selnick permitted Plaintiff to take the afternoon off, Ms.
Bright later denied his request, despite Plaintiffs explanation
of the situation. Id.
On April 24, 1998, Plaintiff was formally reprimanded after an
incident involving the postage meter on the postal machine.
Plaintiff left a note on Ms. Bright's desk informing her that
the postage meter required replenishment for an upcoming bulk
mailing. (Cooper II Dep. at 50-53). The postage meter was
normally maintained at an amount of $1500, but had been
substantially depleted. Plaintiff, who had been out of the
office the day before, was held responsible for this event,
which resulted in a formal letter of reprimand dated April 29,
1998 being placed in his file. Id. at 50-55; 62. Plaintiff was
upset because he had nothing to do with the depletion of postage
on the machine, having simply informed her of the need to add
postage to the meter. The letter of reprimand also addressed a
number of other matters, including employee lunches and an
incident where Plaintiff forgot to put out new time cards in
time for the other
employees. Id. at 62; (See "Cooper Letter").
After the postage incident, Plaintiff went to the Union and
Mr. Fahy regarding Ms. Bright's exercise of supervisory
authority over him, specifically regarding the letter of
reprimand. Id. at 53. Mr. Fahy declined, however, to remove
the letter from his file. Id. Plaintiff then went further, and
on April 30, 1998, contacted and met with Mr. Anthony L. Gricco
("Mr.Gricco"), a Human Resource Management Consultant with the
New Jersey Department of Personnel ("New Jersey DOP" or "DOP").
In this meeting, Plaintiff addressed his problems concerning Ms.
Bright. He told Mr. Gricco of the treatment he received, the
denial of days off, her general tone and demeanor, and repeated
his allegations of gender discrimination. (Cooper II Dep. at
65-66). Plaintiff also informed the union and his co-workers
about his contact with the DOP. Id. at 147-48. He stated that
Mr. Gricco explained to him that Mr. Fahy would be advised that
Ms. Bright could not work in that capacity because of her job
title. Id. at 66.
Shortly after Plaintiffs conversation with Mr. Gricco, Mr.
Gricco spoke to Mr. Fahy regarding Plaintiffs situation. Mr.
Fahy testified that "I explained [to Mr. Gricco] what I was
trying to accomplish [regarding the functioning of the Fiscal
Unit] and he told me what she [Ms. Bright] could and could not
do in that position, so that I implemented those changes prior
to the receipt of the letter*fn1 which was a couple of months
later." (Fahy Dep. at 61).
On May 6, 1998, Plaintiff sent a letter to Mr. Fahy echoing
his earlier complaints and grievances. The letter reiterated the
above allegations and incidents of unfair treatment from Ms.
Bright, the denial of leave and overtime opportunities, and his
general malaise at having to work with her. (See Cooper Ltr.).
Plaintiff stated that the situation "has only gotten worse and
feel that legal action may become necessary to protect my future
with this agency." Id.
Following Plaintiffs contact with Mr. Fahy and Mr. Gricco and
into the summer of 1998, Plaintiffs situation worsened. He
Well, she [Ms. Bright] started putting me on the
phone a lot, lot more to — and then I couldn't get my
work done What else? I took on other people's — like
I started doing stuff that Janet used to do. I
started doing stuff that Janet used to do. The
Medicaid things that I would help out on now became
mine. He I didn't get to `em — I used to do them when
I had time, I would help Janet out, and now it was
mine. So they would pile up until I got time to get
to `em and then I'd have stacks of `em.
Cooper II Dep. at 82-83.
Plaintiff's time off requests continued to be authorized by
Ms. Bright. However, she used a rubber stamp that contained Mr.
Fahy's signature, a change that Mr. Fahy instituted in response
to his phone call with Mr. Gricco. Id. at 75; (Fahy Dep. at
62) Ms. Bright would consult with him regarding the grant or
denial of time off and she would then use the rubber stamp
accordingly. See id.
During this time, Plaintiff complains that Ms. Bright's
attitude towards him worsened, that it was "time to get even
with Ray or something like that," and that his boss, Ed Selnick,
warned him on several occasions to "be careful" and to "watch
his back." (Cooper II Dep. at 78-79). Plaintiff also repeatedly
requested to be
transferred out of the Fiscal Unit but no position was
available. (Fahy Dep. at 67).
Finally, on September 4, 1998, Mr. Fahy received a letter from
Mr. Gricco at the New Jersey DOP regarding his meeting with
Plaintiff, wherein he addressed Plaintiffs concerns about Ms.
Bright. (See Def. Br. at Ex. B). This letter states in
As you are aware, I was contacted by Mr. Raymond
Cooper, Clerk, regarding his perception of unfair
treatment. I met with Mr. Cooper, reviewed his
personnel folder and listened to his concerns. Based
on this meeting, I would like to make some
suggestions. Mr. Cooper provided me with copies of
Leave Request forms signed by Ms. Donnalee Bright.
Our records indicate that Ms. Bright is a Clerk
Typist and thus would have no supervisory
responsibility for Mr. Cooper. Mr. Cooper also
provided me with a copy of a memo written by Ms.
Bright in which she assumes the title of Office
Manager, a title she does not hold. Please ensure
that Ms. Bright does not assume supervisory
responsibility for Mr. Cooper or any other member of
the staff in the future.
The letter further states:
As we discussed, Ms. Bright can be used for duties
involved with the dissemination of work and the
collection of same. However, any corrective action
necessary with the completion of work should be
referred to the legitimate supervisor of the unit. I
explained that the Department of Personnel only
becomes involved with disciplinary matters at the
Major Discipline level, and that my involvement in
this issue was only one of a concern for proper
classification of the individual using supervisory
(Ltr. from Anthony L. Gricco to Joseph B. Fahy, dated Sept. 4,
1998 at Def. Br. at Ex. B).