West New York settles ‘culture of sexism’ similar to ‘Mad Men’ suit for $150k

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The Town of West New York settled a lawsuit with a former official that alleged he created a “culture of sexism” similar to the show “Mad Men” for $150,000. Joe DeMarco

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

After a closed session that lasted for over an hour, the West New York Board of Commissioners approved the settlement by a vote of 4-0(1), with Mayor Felix Roque abstaining since he was named in the suit at their August 17th meeting.

According to sources, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, the closed session took much longer than expected since some officials preferred to litigate the case.

Eventually, cooler heads ultimately prevailed under the watch of Town Attorney Donald Scarinci, whose firm, Scarinci Hollenbeck, serves as corporation counsel.

Since Roque’s re-election in May 2015, Scarinci is rarely seen up on the dais at West New York Board of Commissioners meetings.

As Hudson County View first reported in August 2015, Town Hall employee Lazara Martinez, through her attorney Louis Zayas, sued the town, Roque and former Business Administrator Joe DeMarco alleging her civil rights and freedom of speech were violated.

Specifically, the suit alleged DeMarco gave pay raises to two female co-workers “whom he flirted with and behaved inappropriately,” adding that he “created a culture of sexism” similar to the show “Mad Men.”

DeMarco was Roque’s campaign manager during the May 2011 election where Roque defeated Sal Vega. He left his position in West New York in July 2014 after Jimmy Davis defeated Mark Smith in the Bayonne mayor’s race.

DeMarco, who also served as Davis’ campaign manager, is currently the business administrator in Bayonne.

“The Town of West New York, through it’s insurance carrier, shall provide Plaintiff’s attorney with a payment in the amount of one hundred fifty thousand dollars ($150,000), inclusive of all costs, attorneys fees, or any other cost or expense related to the lawsuit,” the settlement says.

The settlement was signed by Martinez on September 8th, while Roque did not sign the settlement until September 18th.

As is standard procedure, the town admits no wrongdoing as a result of the settlement.

Two Open Public Records Act requests, one on August 24th and another on September 1st, seeking a copy of from the West New York Clerk’s Office warranted no results since the settlement had not yet been executed.

The settlement provides no clarity as to what caused the delay between the commissioners approving it and when it was made official.