Ex-WNY official ‘created a culture of sexism’ similar to ‘Mad Men,’ lawsuit says

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A former West New York official is accused of creating “a culture of sexism,” similar to that in the television series “Mad Men,” only giving pay raises and promotions to “younger, sexy” females in a lawsuit filed last month. 

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In the lawsuit filed in Hudson County Superior Court on July 8, Lazara Martinez – through her North Bergen Attorney Louie Zayas – she alleges that then-Business Administrator Joe 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.”

The show, set in the 1950’s, depicts men treating woman as sex objects.

In the suit, Martinez – now 68, who works as an accountant for the town – says that “younger, sexy” females who flirted with DeMarco received pay raises and promotions – while Martinez was denied such opportunities.

She further alleges that Town CFO Margaret Cherone, her direct supervisor, once told DeMarco that he had created a “toxic environment” by essentially allowing one of Martinez’s co-workers to do whatever she wanted in the office.

The woman, Madeline Villalta, also allegedly allowed DeMarco to touch her “in a sexual and inappropriate manner,” which created “a hostile work environment” for others – such as Martinez.

Mayor Felix Roque is also named in the suit, since it was his “unwritten policy of retaliating against non-political supporters” – which DeMarco implemented by refusing to sign off on a $5,000 raise for Martinez in July 2013.

Martinez says she previously declined multiple solicitations from town hall employees to purchase tickets for Roque’s political fundraisers.

Additionally, Martinez claims her civil rights, particularly freedom of speech and political affiliation, were violated, and that she was also a victim of age and gender discrimination.

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 for the Bayonne mayor’s seat.

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

West New York spokesman Pablo Fonseca said the town doesn’t comment on pending litigation, which is “a personnel matter.”

Zayas and DeMarco could not be reached by phone and their voicemails were full, while a Bayonne spokesman and Davis did not return calls seeking comment.

A copy of the lawsuit can be read here.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Fact. Everything here is TRUE 100%. What will happen? They will pay a amount that everyone will agree with. The lawsuit will be finished and Demarco and anyone else will keep there jobs and it will be business as usual. That always happens.

  2. Rumor has it that Joey has been a pig since way back, plowing his way through all the young females in WNY. The suit is right on the money. Funny how they all thought they were the only ones. But now their names will be forever tarnished and their professional reputations questioned.

    It will be interesting to see how marge reacts now. Will she step up to plate or retreat like a pathetic solider since she received her raises while pulling the squeeze play with Paterson.

    It will be even more interesting to see how this plays out. John u should dig a little deeper and ask some female town employees what they think of this story. U might be surprised, but not more than his wife, to find out that it wasn’t just the two mentioned in the lawsuit. Meanwhile, He took them all to his favorite little hiding spot in weehawken. You see, the problem is, once you piss off enough people, the crap you do, will continually be brought to light. I have a feeling this is just the beginning.

    People of Bayonne ….. Keep a close eye on your daughters, sisters, wives and girlfriends…. Cuz he’s a hit and run kinda lover.

  3. Are you kidding me? This lawsuit is going nowhere. Obviously this woman is trying to get some money prior to retiring. Ain’t gonna happen. Not touching or flirting with this woman does not equate to the creation of a hostile work environment. And good luck trying to prove she didn’t get a raise because she didn’t donate.

  4. Lol! Yeah right, Pablo, as if nobody in this town ever got punished for not donating to Roque or not supporting him politically. In your dreams.
    You should try crossing him one of these days — see what will happen to you. But you’ll never do that as long as he keeps paying you a big fat salary out of our tax dollars to spout your lies and bulls**t.

  5. Sorry Kevin. I like you, but you have demonstrated that you have no idea what was/is going on in the Town of West New York. I retired after 35 years, due to this any many other injustices in that municipal building. Shame on those who continue to let appalling and unwelcomed behavior exist and thrive. I hope things have changed since my departure. I have heard not!

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