The Union County Watchdog Association routinely places OPRA requests for civil complaints and notices of claim filed which names the county or any of its officers or employees as defendants. There were many slip and falls and accidents in this last batch which covered February 17-March 31, 2015. One involves alleged bad behavior by corrections officers…. Again.
Union County Corrections Officer Marissa Taylor-Munger filed a Tort Claim though her attorney Matthew Rinaldo, claiming the County of Union is responsible for her harassment through willful failure to remedy a hostile work environment.
Excerpt from the claim:
This Notice is based on harassment and retaliation experienced by Ms. Taylor-Munger at the hands of Sgt. Kevin Burkert. Sgt. Burkert has been harassing Ms. Taylor-Munger on a continuous and regular basis since 2011 for no reason other than her gender as female and race as African American. Ms. Taylor-Munger made several complaints about Sgt. Burkert which were deemed substantiated. Sgt. Burkert has harassed African-American female co-workers and inmates in the past.
Sgt. Burkert has cornered Ms. Taylor Munger and has threatened and intimidated her. He has gone out of his way to ensure that her work assignments are under his supervision. Ms. Taylor-Munger has been in fear of physical harm at the hands of Sgt. Burkert. Sgt. Burkert has attempted to disparage Ms. Taylor-Munger’s reputation among her colleagues. Despite Sgt. Burkert’s behavior and past history, the County simply has given him a slap on the wrist and has taken no meaningful steps to stop his reign of terror against Ms. Taylor-Munger.
No meaningful discipline has been forthcoming as a result of the above incidents. Consequently, Sgt. Burkert has been and continues to be in a position to commit acts of harassment and retaliation against Ms. Taylor-Munger.
As a result, Ms. Taylor-Munger has suffered escalating anxiety, physical and emotional trauma, and depression.
The Tort Claims Act, N.J.S.A. 59:8-1 to 59:8-11, requires that a party file notice of a tort claim against a public entity within ninety days of the accrual of a claim. N.J.S.A. 59:8-8(a). N.J.S.A. 59:8-8(b) further states that a party is “forever barred” from bringing a claim if “two years have elapsed since the accrual of the claim.”
This claim was filed on February 15, 2015. To date no public monies have been appropriated to defend Burkert or the County, and no civil complaint or settlement has been released through OPRA requests.
This isn’t the first time a Burkert was involved in a jail employee lawsuit.