Following a second round of mediation on the matter, the Lakewood Township Municipal Utilities Authority (LTMUA) has just successfully settled a massive racial discrimination lawsuit which all began with a "mistakenly sent text message," FAA News has learned.

The LTMUA provides water and sewer service to a major part of the eastern half of Lakewood Township.

Back in August 2021, a woman employed by MUA slammed the MUA with a discrimination lawsuit involving a former supervisor.

The case is based on a text message the supervisor sent out with a reference to the Plaintiff. The supervisor mistakenly sent the text to the Plaintiff as well.

According to the civil complaint filed in Ocean County Superior Court by Toms River Attorney Robert Fuggi Esq., the plaintiff, an African American woman employed by MUA, was "horrified" to learn that her immediate supervisor, a man she worked with for four years, referred to her - what he thought was in private - using a "racial epithet which conjures all the darkest specters of our nation's history."

"Although Plaintiff had reservations about her working environment and particularly, concerns that some of her coworkers harbored racial animus, she never conceived that the Defendant's would employ men would use this vile racial epithet to describe her... As a result of the incident, Plaintiff suffers from daily panic attacks, loss of enjoyment in activities she used to enjoy, depression and anxiety. Additionally her self esteem has been damaged as she grapples with the possibility that other colleagues and acquaintances think of her in the same terms used by her former supervisor," the complaint claimed.

The case alleged race based discrimination in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, negligent hiring, supervision and retention, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The lawsuit also alleged that MUA supervisors often held closed door meetings which involved partisan political advocacy, and they displayed partisan political stickers of MUA premises which is a public sector workplace.

According to the complaint, MUA Executive Director Justin Flancbaum has already suspended or fired the supervisor.

The plaintiff sought punitive damages for the emotional distress she received in being referred to with the racial epithet, and legal fees.

Subsequently, the Plaintiff submitted an Offer of Judgement offering to settle the matter for $1.25 million.

The MUA is represented by Toms River Attorney Steven Secare Esq.

The supervisor is represented by Toms River Attorney Kevin B. Riordan Esq. who filed an Answer admitting that the Defendant sent the text message, but stating that the Plaintiff never expressed any concerns and did her job without complaint.

The MUA and the supervisor additionally counter claimed that the Plaintiff failed to comply with the Tort Claims Act.

In November 2021 the matter went to mediation. That apparently did not yield much success so the matter recently headed to a second round of mediation.

The second round of mediation has resulted in an out of court settlement of the entire matter and the lawsuit has now been withdrawn with prejudice.

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