Letter to EEOC alleges abusive rec director, negligent law dept. in Jersey City

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A letter to The Newark Office of The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleges shocking behavior by Jersey City Recreation Director Ryan Strother, as well as negligence on behalf of the city’s law department.

Photo Sources: Twitter @Strother2012, Google Images
Photo Sources: Twitter @Strother2012, Google Images

By Michael Shurin/Hudson County View

What started off as horseplay quickly turned into a verbal tirade and an abuse of power by Jersey City Recreation Director Ryan Strother, alleges a city employee.

Diane Fleming, an employee within the recreation department, says Strother verbally accosted Christian Hernandez, a lifeguard at Pershing Field pool, in a profane manner over horseplay gone awry.

According to the letter, on August 27th, 2013, Pershing Field pool was closing down early for a “Summer Staff Appreciation Party.” The pool was vacated at 5:45 PM, and the building by 6:00 PM, for the two-hour party.

The letter claims Strother, appointed director by Mayor Fulop on July 1st, 2013, had his young teenage child swimming at the pool that day. When he arrived at 6:10 p.m. to pick up his child, he noticed “a small, red mark” on the child’s stomach.

After questioning his child, who at first wasn’t forthcoming with what had happened, he discovered that his child was accidently towel-snapped when attempting to play with older life guards and locker attendants, according to Fleming.

When called into Strother’s office, Hernandez, who is also Fleming’s grandson, took responsibility for the behavior, but it didn’t stop Strother from unleashing a shocking and vulgar tirade on Hernandez, according to details in the letter.

After the expletive-filled rant directed at Hernandez, Strother supposedly said the new administration “has a no tolerance policy and there will be consequences.”

The alleged incident was witnessed by not only Fleming, but city employees Charles “Mandy” Johnson and Elaine James, according to the letter.

Frank Fracino, the facility supervisor, was not present at the time of the alleged incident, but spoke with Strother for approximately twenty minutes shortly after as stated in the details of the letter.

Days later, Fleming reached out to EEOC of Newark regarding what she claims to have occurred.

She said EEOC directed her to have Hernandez file an incident report because he was the victim. According to Fleming, Hernandez and his mother have both filed complaints with the city, and after contacting the city’s law department for a response – “neither have ever received the promised call back.”

The letter also claims that due to a discrepancy in pay – caused by an error when employees were rehired following repairs to the facility – Hernandez was under paid $1.00/per hour.

When the issue was brought to Strother’s attention in 2013, the letter says he told Hernandez he would remedy the situation and pay him back salary owed. The letter claims Hernandez salary wasn’t corrected until July 1, 2014, and that no back salary was paid.

Fleming claims the salary issue is related to the alleged incident on August 27th, 2013.

Fleming, who was reassigned to the office at Caven Point where Strother is located, claims the incident mentally scarred her. She says that even though they’re cordial at work, she notices his “quick change of body language whenever someone disagrees with him.”

She added that the alleged incident is never far away from her mind, and that she has “a feeling of disease when [Strother] is in the building.”

At the end, Fleming states her disappointment in the lack of consequences for Strother’s alleged behavior, especially considering a “zero tolerance policy” supposedly under effect in a new administration.

Jersey City Spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill did not return an email seeking comment on the details of the letter.

The full letter can be read here.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Hello Citizen Journalist. Did you seek a statement from Ryan Strother. These allegations may or may not be true. Journalist integrity requires that you interview BOTH sides, or else it is punditry, editorial or blogging, not journalism.

    • Tawana – Unfortunately the administration has a policy forbidding employees from speaking to the press without going through the city spokesperson.

  2. Director Strother simply appears to be another unqualified person given a job by a person in power who owed someone a favor. Face it…it’s Jersey City politics and it’s just the way it’s played. Regardless of the severity or the validity of his actions, Ms. Fleming filed the paperwork and was told she’d be contacted in a timely fashion. Someone in authority should have taken action to discuss this issue with BOTH parties…but apparently this wasn’t done because it appears Strother would be found guilty or negligent in the administration of his duties.

    Odds are, because of the way Jersey City politics are played, nothing will happen to Strother while Ms. Fleming and Mr. Hernandez will suffer the wrath from what appears to be a man with too much power, too little intelligence, a more powerful person behind him…and the inability to do his city-paid (or taxpayer paid) job efficiently. He should learn that “respect” is earned…not demanded or bullied.

    I just may decide to write a new book based on this event and the politics of Jersey City (or maybe all of Hudson County…of which I’m a native).

  3. I see nothing, absolutely nothing, based on or motivated by race, sex, age (40+), national origin, color, disability, or genetic information. I wish I was the EEOC investigator assigned to this matter so I could this close case IMMEDIATELY. Someone was mean to you at work after you rat tailed their child? Surprise, surprise. This is not discrimination and alleging that it has anything to do with discrimination mocks the Civil Rights Act.

  4. Whew, for a second there we thought you were going to write about Strothers lying on a JC police report about an employee altercation or his $1750 stain steel refriderator paid for by the city.

Comments are closed.