EMT who alleged he was fired for not being ‘team player’ in sexual harassment case wins appeal

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A former EMS supervisor for the now defunct Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center won an appeal in his retaliation case alleging he was fired after refusing to be a “team player” for the company in an unrelated sexual harassment case.

The former Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center in Secaucus. Photo via Flickr.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“The facts proffered by plaintiff, which we accept as true for our analysis of the court’s disposition of the summary judgment motion, show defendant attempted to retaliate against Bailey for the filing of her LAD complaint,” wrote Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division Judges Francis Vernoia, Carmen Messano, and Mitchel Ostrer wrote in today’s ruling.

“Following the filing of Bailey’s complaint, defendant requested plaintiff file a baseless complaint for a restraining order against Bailey; conjure up false complaints about Bailey; and make false statements about her. Those requests constitute an attempt by defendant to commit ‘an unlawful employment practice’ … retaliation against Bailey for her filing of a sexual harassment complaint.”

Emiliano Rios, worked for the MHMC, where he was hired in August 2012 and fired in July 16th, 2015. He served as the EMS supervisor before being terminated, the legal opinion says.

In November 2013, a co-worker and friend Heatherlee Bailey filed a sexual harassment suit against the MHMC and several employees, prompting EMS Coordinator Rostik Rusev to ask Rios to be a “team player” and to “play ball” with the hospital in regards to this civil complaint.

Rios claimed that he was asked to filing a restraining order against Bailey and it was intimated that he would be made assistant director of EMS if he would “protect the hospital,” though he never agreed to do so.

His case was dismissed on summary judgement, with the court ruling at the time that he
“could not establish the requisite elements of a retaliatory discharge claim.”

However, the appellate court disagreed, finding that Rios has presented a sufficient burden of proof for his claim to proceed forward.

“Having reviewed the summary judgment record, we are satisfied plaintiff sustained that burden by presenting evidence he refused defendant’s requests that he seek a meritless restraining order against Bailey and make misrepresentations concerning her,” they wrote

“Giving plaintiff the benefit of all favorable inferences, plaintiff demonstrated he had a good faith and reasonable belief defendant’s requests constituted efforts by defendant to unlawfully retaliate against Bailey for the filing of her discrimination and harassment complaint.”