Search
Close this search box.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Search

Lawsuit Charges Stone Harbor Administrator With Sexual Harassment

Lawsuit Charges Stone Harbor Administrator With Sexual Harassment

By Vince Conti

Stone Harbor Borough Hall
File Photo
Stone Harbor Borough Hall

STONE HARBOR – A borough employee has sued Stone Harbor and Administrator Manny Parada, claiming she was sexually harassed by Parada and suffered retaliation for reporting the harassment and being a whistleblower.

Megan Brown, who works in regulatory compliance directly under Parada, also claims that his actions created a hostile work environment, causing her physical and emotional distress. That environment, the suit says, gave her a feeling of “paranoia” and decimated her “confidence as an employee.”

In her lawsuit, filed April 12 in Superior Court, Brown lists numerous situations in which she said comments made by Parada were unwelcome and made her uncomfortable. She said these included one in which Parada complimented her looks but added that he was not saying this because he wanted to have sex with her.

Brown’s complaint lists unwelcome comments and actions by Parada dating from April 2023, including an unsolicited gift, flowers, offers of assistance day or night, and comments about the administrator’s relationship with his wife.

Parada has not replied to a request by the Herald for comment.

Brown’s complaint states that the borough hired an independent employment lawyer who approached her in December 2023 for an interview concerning allegations of harassing conduct directed at her by Parada. The Herald has requested the final report of the independent attorney under the Open Public Records Act.

On March 4, eight “concerned employees of borough hall” — all women — wrote to Peter Webster, the contracted human resources director for the borough, and asked for a meeting with five individuals: Webster, Mayor Judith Davies-Dunhour, Council President Frank Dallahan, Borough Solicitor Anthony Bocchi and Police Chief Tom Schutta.

In the letter to Webster, the employees, one of whom was Brown, stated that they had deep concerns about the current state of their work environment. They added that “the environment is creating significant difficulties in our ability to perform our jobs effectively and safely.”

The areas of concern that the eight employees said they wished to discuss included “physical safety concerns” and “threats to employee well-being.” All eight expressed concern for their physical safety; all asked that the chief of police be part of the meeting.

When the meeting was scheduled, three of the five requested individuals came to it, Davies-Dunhour, Webster and Schutta. Dallahan and Bocchi did not attend. What happened at the meeting could not be immediately determined.

Brown’s court complaint contains a letter dated March 4 from Brown to the mayor and members of the council. In that letter she details accusations of retaliation, including actions she claims were taken to prevent her from getting an open position in the Construction Office.

She specifically claims that the Administration and Finance Committee of the council conspired with Parada to prevent her from applying for or being hired for the Construction Office position. She lists the members of the committee as council persons Jennifer Gensemer, chair; Dallahan, and Bunny Parzych.

The court filing also makes public more evidence of the deterioration of the relationships on the council dais. The Herald has reported numerous times about the obvious tension between members of the council and the mayor.

Those tensions were on display at the council meeting Aug. 1, 2023, when five members of the council voted to censure the mayor for remarks she made in July questioning the appointment of Parada as permanent administrator. A censure is a very unusual and rare act by a governing body.

The complaint filed by Brown also contains copies of a phone text message allegedly sent by Parada calling the mayor, Davies-Dunhour, a c*** and saying he would not “piss on her if she was on fire.” No specific action by the council over this comment is known to have occurred.

Davies-Dunhour said she had no comment, under advice from the borough solicitor.

Beginning in February, the Stone Harbor Council held four consecutive closed sessions at council meetings, Feb. 20, March 5, March 19 and April 2. A subject of each meeting was matters related to the employment relationship. The council is allowed under the state’s Open Public Meetings Act to go into closed session on personnel issues.

In each case action was taken after the closed session, but the actions were voted on in ways that made no details available to the public. In each case the borough was “to proceed as discussed in closed session.”

Brown is the second employee to make accusations of sexual harassment by Parada. On Aug. 29, 2023, former Borough Clerk Kimberley Stevenson filed an $800,000 tort claim against the borough, arguing that she was subjected to sexual harassment by Parada and experienced a hostile work environment, causing her “severe anxiety, insomnia and heart palpitations.”

Stevenson eventually resigned from her position with Stone Harbor.

Contact the author, Vince Conti, at vconti@cmcherald.com.

Reporter

Vince Conti is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

Spout Off

Middle Township – To address the spout about development in our communities, when will you realize we are PA play ground. They insult us when they are here, call us names and make jokes, and most treat us bad! Anyway…

Read More

Cape May County – Time for another constitutional amendment, when a president becomes incapable of the duties of POTUS there should be an emergency election within 6 months to elect the next, I think everyone will…

Read More

Middle Township – To respond to the spouter asking if Trump, is that good or Biden, is that bad! Really? Where we living with everything as high and out of control as it is today under Trump. NO! Biden has no…

Read More

Most Read

Print Edition

Recommended Articles

Skip to content