ELIZABETH, NJ — A female corrections officer working at the Union County Jail has lodged a lawsuit claiming her supervisor made daily sexual overtures to her, and the county retaliated when she complained of sexual harassment.
The lawsuit filed in Superior Court in Elizabeth Dec. 3 claims that Sgt. Christopher Smidt, of Colonia, sexually harassed Officer Monique Hall on a daily basis in 2013 and 2014 by regularly telling her “Test a mattress with me,” “I like black women,” “In high school I had a black girlfriend” and “My wife is a [expletive]” among other comments.
Both sides in the case this week declined to comment.
On Dec. 19, the Union County Freeholder Board approved $15,000 to defend Smidt in the lawsuit, which also names the county. The freeholders appointed the Cranford based firm Renaud & Deappolonio LLC to represent Smidt.
The lawsuit claims that Smidt, of Union, also “regularly caressed” Hall’s arms and that after she filed an internal affairs complaint containing sexual harassment allegations against him on June 9 of 2014, Smidt “became hypercritical in supervising plaintiff and he filed numerous disciplinary charges against her.”
In 2015 and again in July 19 of this year, the county “concluded that all internal complaints were unsubstantiated,” according to Hall’s lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims Smidt launched in “unauthorized investigation” into Hall during which officers watched her “every move on cameras on October 11, 2018.”
The complaint states that the county has audio recordings from the jail’s control center showing that on April 18 Smidt told a sergeant to “Write her up for everything. You don’t know what she did to me.”
A sergeant told Hall that Smidt “has it out for you. He has a personal vendetta. He hates you and want me to write you up,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims the county retaliated against Hall because she spoke up.
“As a result of Defendant Smidt’s vendetta and retaliatory discipline, defendants suspended plaintiff for four weeks without pay beginning May 8, 2019,” the complaint states.
The lawsuit claims that as a result of Smidt's wrongful conduct Hall has suffered lost pay, emotional distress and other damages. The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorneys' fees and “all other relief the court deems equitable and just.”
Union County spokesman Sebastian D’Elia declined to comment Thursday.
“As a rule, the county does not comment on ongoing litigation,” D’Elia said.
Hall’s attorney, Paul Castronovo, of the Morristown based firm of Castronovo & McKinney LLC, also declined to comment.
“I do not comment on pending cases,” Castronovo said.
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