March 28, 2014 at 10:52 PM
WEST ORANGE, NJ - The discrimination complaint filed by West Orange resident Richard Groves against the Downtown West Orange Alliance has been withdrawn, according to documents received by the DWOA from the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights and the Equal Opportunity Commission. The withdrawal, dated and signed by Mr. Groves on March 4, effectively ended the nearly year-long complaint requiring hours of meetings, hearings and nearly $16,000 in costs to the DWOA. The Alliance was represented by Mandelbaum-Salsburg.
On May 1, 2013, Groves filed a complaint against the DWOA, claiming that after applying for the position of Executive Director on December 13, 2012, he subsequently received a letter from the DWOA on January 31, 2013, thanking him for his interest in the position but advised him he was not a finalist. Further claiming that the DWOA 'refused to hire' him, Groves filed a discrimination complaint claiming that he was not hired because he was black, and that the successful candidate, Megan Brill, a female, possessed inferior qualifications and less work experience than he.
The Downtown West Orange Alliance had been precluded from discussing the complaint, though Groves had granted an interview during the process with the West Orange Chronicle. In response to the March 6 withdrawal, Chairperson of the DWOA, John McElroy, made the following statement:
"The Downtown West Orange Alliance has been notified that West Orange resident, Richard Groves, has withdrawn the claim that he filed against the DWOA. It is disappointing that valuable human and financial resources were expended defending these unsubstantiated accusations."
In defending the hiring of Megan Brill, "former two-term West Orange Board of Education President, former West Orange Council of PTAs president, and co-owner of Advantage Pest Control with her husband Rick", McElroy continued, " Ms. Brill had 12 years experience with the Downtown Board...the fact that she did not possess a four year college degree was trumped by her real-life experience as a business owner and community leader."
McElroy told the Alternative Press that since Brill's appointment as executive Director the DWOA, significant strides have been made in promotion of the downtown corridor, including the successful move of the Downtown Farmer's Market to Quigley parking lot; the Shop West Orange Property Tax Card; beautification projects; The Mayors 5K Run; the new DWOA logo launch; producing Joe Fagan's "Discovering West Orange" local cable program; and helping to coordinate the upcoming June 7 Main Street event incorporating the Township Picnic, the Downtown Street Fair, and the Thomas Edison National Historical Park's support of the NJ 350 initiative.
"Now that we have put these issues behind us," said McElroy, "the DWOA can get back to work on the things we are charged with doing. We invite everyone to visit our downtown corridor and support the many businesses that comprise the DWOA. Volunteers are always welcomed and needed."
The Alternative Press contacted Mr. Groves for a statement, but he said in an email that he had no comment.
Groves is currently part of the team seeking to elect Eldridge Hawkins, Jr. as Mayor of West Orange in November.