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Suit Claims Upper ‘Unreasonably’ Terminated Former Chief EMT

Court Gavel Image (2020) - USE THIS ONE

By Camille Sailer

PETERSBURG – Michelle Sampson, of Marmora, who has been employed with the Upper Township emergency medical team, as chief EMT,since November 2019, is suing the municipality for having terminated her in what she claims is multiple violations of law and due process. 
Her complaint was filed Oct. 25 with the Superior Court of New Jersey, in Cape May County.
According to the complaint filed by her lawyer, Louis Barbone, the state Civil Service Commission certified Sampson as the “number one” candidate for this position in December 2020. 
Per Sampson’s allegations, Upper Township Jan. 1, 2021, approved a resolution appointing her permanently to the chief EMT position. At the same time, Sampson was appointed to the safety coordinator position with an additional annual salary. 
According to Sampson’s complaint, the municipality’s resolution that identified her position as “permanent” signified that she “had been appointed in the career service and did acquire the tenure and rights resulting from regular appointment and successful completion of the working test.”
However, per Sampson’s allegations, the municipality Feb. 22, 2021, “unreasonably, and without any basis in fact or law” terminated, through a resolution, Sampson as chief EMT, “erroneously” characterizing her as a “provisional employee.” 
Further, per Sampson’s complaint, the municipality acted “without notice, without any required preliminary notice of disciplinary action, and without any lawful basis or process” and acted “based on nothing more than rumor, speculation, and reckless indifference” to her 16 years of service.
Sampson is asking for a jury trial to grant her restoration of back pay and benefits, as well asan injunction against Upper for terminating her and mandating a hold on all alleged disciplinary actions against her until her rights have been properly adjudicated. 
Sampson is also asking for compensatory and punitive damages against Upper for what she claims is a violation of her civil rights.
Responding to the Herald’s request for comment, Barbone stated, “We stand by the facts and allegations set forth in the complaint.” 
Daniel Young, Upper Township’s attorney, advised the municipality not to comment on the litigation, Mayor Richard Palombo told the Herald.
To contact Camille Sailer, email csailer@cmcherald.com.

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