PLAINFIELD, NJ - A former employee of the Plainfield Rescue Squad has filed a complaint under the CEPA (Conscientious Employee Protection Act) also known as the Whistleblower Act, alleging that he was retaliated against after reporting inappropriate conduct of his superiors. Daniel Klibaner, a resident of Westfield, served as an EMT with the Plainfield Rescue Squad from 2013 until February of 2019 when he was suspended.
The New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act, N.J. Stat. § 34:19-1 (CEPA), prohibits any retaliatory action against an employer because the employee discloses, or threatens to disclose to a supervisor or to a public entity any activity, policy or practice of the employer that is a violation of a law, or a rule or regulation.
According to the complaint filed on July 10th by Klibaner’s attorney Daniel Silverman of Costello & Mains, LLC, in the fall of 2018 Klibaner observed the company Chief, Timothy G. Lowe, Jr. using a rescue squad truck to go drinking at the end of the work shift at a Buffalo Wild Wings establishment. Believing that this was an inappropriate use of the company vehicle, Klibaner documented the incident by taking photographs which he later used to report the incident to the squad’s Deputy Chief, Paul Nannery.
Shortly after the incident, Klibaner claimed that his shifts were abruptly canceled due to an ambulance being out of order. According to the suit, “the shift cancellation had an adverse economic impact on Klibaner” as he was paid on an hourly basis.
The complaint also cited additional incidents in the following months including the use of derogatory comments directed at Klibaner as well as an alleged false harassment complaint by a co-worker, who was also a relative of Mr. Lowe. Klibaner requested to meet with the squad’s President, Sue Kessen, after a company-wide email was sent regarding personnel issues but no meeting occurred.
In February of 2019, Klibaner claimed that he was instructed to use an ambulance that he felt to be unsafe and in poor condition to be operated. He raised his concerns to then Deputy Chief Nannery, who insisted that the problems had been repaired. Klibaner, not confident that the repairs had been made, later posted pictures of the ambulance in question to a private Facebook group used by emergency medical technicians including many of the squad’s employees.
As a result of the post and his “attitude”, Kilbaner was suspended until further notice per the complaint filed.
Attorney Richard Bressler representing the Plainfield Rescue Squad stated, “We categorically deny the entire thing. These allegations were reported initially to administrative proceeding. The county chose not to proceed in that manner.” He also stated that his clients have yet to be served with the complaint.
Klibaner is seeking compensatory damages, equitable reinstatement, equitable front and back pay, reimbursement of attorney fees and any other relief deemed reasonable by the court.
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