Former Galloway Township Clerk Lisa Tilton has filed another tort claim notice, this time targeting Middle Township for what she claims was discrimination when she was applying for the positions of Deputy Clerk and Registrar of Vital Statistics in that township earlier this year.
According to the notice, Tilton applied for the positions in or around April of this year. In September, Middle Township announced Suzanne Stocker had been hired to fill the positions. In between, Tilton and her attorney, Stephen Srenaski, claim the township discriminated against her based on the lawsuit she filed in May of this year against Galloway Township.
In the lawsuit, Tilton alleges sexual harassment against former Township Manager Steve Bonanni, and claims a vendetta involving former Councilman Dennis Kleiner led to her eventual dismissal from the township that employed her for over 10 years.
According to emails exchanged between Middle Township Business Administrator Mark Mallett and Clerk Kim Krauss, and obtained by Galloway Patch, over 60 applicants applied for the jobs, and eight candidates were interviewed. On June 12, the list of candidates was narrowed to eight, with follow-up interviews to be scheduled.
On Aug. 6, Mallett initially recommended not interviewing Tilton based on a Press of Atlantic City story chronicling Tilton’s decision to file a lawsuit against Galloway Township. The contents of the story were copy and pasted into an email and shared with Krauss, Middle Township Mayor Dan Lockwood, Deputy Mayor Tim Donohue and Committeewoman Sue DeLanzo.
Krauss responded by stating that she wasn’t sure they could discriminate against her based on the story.
“NOT SAYING I believe we should hire Ms. Tilton, however giving an interview may cover our bases and protect us against any later ramification,” Krauss wrote in an emailed response. “We can hire whoever we want but this way we can at least say we gave her an opportunity.”
Mallett’s response was that it wouldn’t be considered discrimination under a “suspect class.”
“Ms. Tilton was terminated from her prior position in Galloway and then they had a settlement agreement where she resigned,” Mallett wrote. “I look at it from the perspective that by interviewing her, we are opening the door to potential litigation if she is interviewed and not hired and then claims she was the most qualified candidate.”
In the tort claim notice, Srenaski states, “Ms. Tilton was the most qualified applicant for these positions, but was unlawfully barred from consideration for employment by the township and denied equal employment opportunities by virtue of her having sought legal redress against her former employer under New Jersey and Federal law.”
Srenaski didn’t return messages seeking comment. Attempts to reach Mallett, Krauss, Lockwood, Donohue and DeLanzo for comment were unsuccessful. Those five, along with Vera Kalish and any and all former and elected officials from the Township of Middle, are named in the notice.
No amount is claimed in the notice.
A copy of the notice is attached to the story.