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RACIAL BIAS AND RETALIATION CLAIMS ROCK LAKEWOOD TOWNSHIP POLICE DEPARTMENT IN NEW LAWSUIT



The Lakewood Township Police Department, as well as Communications Division Captain Thomas Langenberger, Township Manager Patrick Donnelly, and Township COO Patricia Komsa have been slammed with a Civil Rights complaint over allegations of racism and retaliation.


According to the complaint filed in New Jersey Superior Court in Ocean County by Allenhurst Attorney Robert M. Anderson Esq.:


Karentessa Mayers is an African American Female.


Following a distinguished career as Principal Community Technician in the New York Police Department - a position in which she was awarded 3 promotions - in 2004, Mayers began working in the Lakewood Township Police Department.


She worked for many years in the Communications Division, which is under the supervision of Captain Thomas Langenberger - and that's where the troubles occured.


In November 2018, Langenberger told Mayers that she was "uneducated" and that she needed "to go to training."


At one point, Langenberger indicated that "no one knows exactly what Mayers does on her job." At the same time, he filed an Internal Affairs complaint against her for "forwarding her emails without permission," however in actuality there was no policy against forwarding emails.


At another point, Langenberger stated that the Communications Division "does not look the way he wants it to look." This was clearly a racist remark as Mayers was the only African American clerical worker in the department.


In late 2019, Mayers overheard Langenberger complaining to Lieutenant Peterson that she should not have her own office. Subsequently, Mayers filed an extensive written complaint regarding how Langenberger was treating her. Chief Gregory Meyer warmly responded that she would be switched to working directly under Sergeant Peter LaRosa.


As a result of the COVID pandemic, Mayers worked remotely from March 2020 until April 11, 2022.


In anticipation of her return to in-house work, Mayers forwarded a 12 page letter to Township Manager Patrick Donnelly detailing her complaints of racially motivated bias toward her, in the hopes that when she returned to the workplace, the workplace would be free of harassment, racial bias, and retaliation.


To her dismay, the racist troubles only got worse.


Immediately upon her return, Langenberger told her that she was being transferred to deal with OPRA requests - this was a demotion to lesser matters.


Mayers was again demoted to lesser duties in August 2022 when Langenberger emailed the Senior Records Clerk and advised her that Mayers was being transferred to records duty. In act of degradation, Langenberger did not mention her in the email by her name, only as "whoever."


On August 25, 2022, Langenberger wilfully and falsely reported Mayers to Internal Affairs as being AWOL. This was in direct contradiction to Chief Meyer's direction that Mayers was to report her hours only to Sergeant Larosa or Lieutenant Leroy Marshall.


In March 2023, Langenberger continued his retaliation against Mayers when he sent her an email reassigning her to processing expungements. This was yet another demotion.


Mayers notified Donnelly that she would be grieving this demotion. Donelly responded by calling her into his office and telling her that if she wanted to keep her job, she was to do anything a supervisor like Langenberger told her to do.


That's when things got even more cranked up.


On May 10, 2023, Langenberger surreptitiously followed Mayers in an unmarked police vehicle with no dash camera and made a false stop on her.


On September 21, 2023, Langenberger taunted Mayers in the hallway, telling her that "he could do anything he wanted to her and get away with it." As clearly shown, Langenberger's retaliatory conduct against Mayers not only continued unabated, but became heightened. In all this time, Mayers attempted to share her concerns with the administration.


On September 25, 2023, Mayers received an Internal Affairs complaint charging her with insubordination to Captain Langenberger. Days later, she filed her own Internal Affairs complaint against him.


Following this, on October 4, 2023, a meeting was held with Donnelly, Township COO Patricia Komsa, and a Union representative. They advised Mayers that she was not in trouble, and that they wanted to ensure she can work stress-free. 


Mayers anticipated that they would address the issues head on by transferring or disciplining Langenberger.


Nope.


Instead, they told her they were transferring her out of the police department and into Human Resources where should work directly under Donelly and Komsa.


This change in job duties and location not only destroyed Mayers' job in the police department, it destroyed a career where she could have earned more promotions.


The complaint alleges five counts: i) Race Discrimination in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination; ii) Retaliation in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination; iii) Retaliation for Participating in Administrative Process in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination; iv) Negligence in Failing to Remedy Hostile Work Environment in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination; and v) CEPA.


The suit demands judgement for compensatory damages "for past and present pain and suffering, emotional upset, mental anguish, humiliation and loss of life's pleasures, which plaintiff has suffered and continues to suffer as a result of defendants improper conduct," punitive damages, as well as legal fees and costs of suit.


The Township has not yet answered the complaint.


The Lakewood Police Department is currently embattled with numerous litigation.


As previously reported here and here on FAA News, the department has been slammed with two separate lawsuits alleging that Officer Matthew T. McKee caused a 3-way car crash while he was driving a police department vehicle on Route 88 in Brick Township in a non-emergency situation.


As previously reported here on FAA News, the department is also currently defending itself against a lawsuit due to a crash caused by Traffic Safety Officer Alex Guzman.


The suit contends that Guzman was driving an unmarked car through a red light at a high rate of speed when there was no need for such urgency at a busy Township intersection, all while using his cell phone.


As exclusively reported here on FAA News, the department has also been accused of violating federal law by denying an Orthodox Jewish man a Religious Accommodation on Shabbos.


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1 comment:

Common sense said...

This is very embarrassing, if it is all true, as claimed.

This has everything to do with no full time Mayor that gets elected by the people, instead gets appointed in some smoke filled back room deals under the ground table. Coles has been appointed by the Vaad for so many years, only to do their dirty work and hasn't done anything noteworthy in all his years as Lakewood Mayor that anyone can point to.

A real elected Mayor would be accountable the the people of Lakewood, this is a disgrace.

Drain this swamp!