Toms River Board of Education charged with Sexual Harassment Suit

New Jersey – Donna Mansfield, former Toms River School District employee, filed a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit against the Toms River Board of Education for subjecting her to a hostile work environment. Mansfield alleged the unbearable sexual harassment she endured led to her termination.

Prior to experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace, Mansfield was dating the Superintendent, Michael J. Ritacco, while she maintained her managerial position. Ritacco was later accused of engaging in some questionable work-related activities. In 2010, Ritacco retired after he was arrested for public corruption charges. According to a civil complaint Mansfield initially filed in the U.S. District Court, the substitute superintendent, Frank Roselli, encouraged her to resign, after Ritacco’s retirement.

Two years after Ritacco retired, he admitted to acquiring 1-2 million from bribery involving the insurance broker for the Toms River school district. As a result of Ritacco’s wrongdoings, he will be incarcerated in a federal penitentiary for over 11 years. Although Mansfield filled the position of what most individuals would consider a married man’s mistress, the FBI confirmed she didn’t have any connections to Ritacco’s misconduct after they invaded her home in April 2010.

As the cafeteria manager, Mansfield main focus at work was to run Cafe@1144 and generate a monthly profit from the corporate office. An audit for Cafe@1144 took place in 2011. The audit revealed that some fraudulent activities occurred. The results of the audit indicated that there was a significant decrease in revenue, $250k, in the 2010-2011-school term. Due to the dishonesty in finances, the Toms River school district decided Mansfield must step down as the cafeteria manager starting November 1, 2011.

Mansfield’s new role required her to perform work duties outside of the cafeteria and in the district’s cafeteria system for a total of 18 schools. According to Mansfield’s complaint, she alleged that the Toms River school district retaliated against her since she declined to resign. The retaliation included a $20k decrease in salary and abridged work duties. Mansfield claims she reported the workplace retaliation in a complaint to her union. Mansfield also alleged that she was employed in a hostile work environment.

Mansfield’s Sexual Harassment Experience in a Hostile Work Environment

Peter Brattan, district’s food service director and Mansfield supervisor, allegedly subjected her to unwanted sexual requests and advances. During several different instances, Mansfield accused Brattan of trying to pursue a conversation based on a sexual nature and unwanted physical contact. The complaint alleged that Brattan gave Mansfield unwelcome comments such as “You smell good” while he was in her presence. Mansfield claims she rejected Brattan’s sexual advances towards her and informed him “to back off and never touch her again.”

Brattan didn’t respond too well to Mansfield’s rebuffs. She claims he retaliated against her after she rejected him. Mansfield began to experience more harassment at work and false accusations regarding workplace misbehavior that didn’t exist prior to her rejection of his sexual requests. The complaint stated that Mansfield also faced threats of termination.

In spite of her direct response that declined his sexual offer and the retaliation he exposed her to, Mansfield explained: “Brattan continued his sexual harassment by inquiring to Ms. Mansfield about her sex life and sexual interest.” A conversation regarding an employee’s sex life is inappropriate in the workplace. If you ever find yourself in a predicament that requires you to discuss your personal sex life in the workplace, seek the legal assistance of a sexual harassment attorney.

Mansfield experienced humiliation from her supervisor directly, and indirectly when he approached her co-workers about her sex life. Brattan also requested for Mansfield to attend a business trip with him. Rejection should put a stop to sexual harassment. However, it tends to motivate harassers to continue their workplace misconduct or become spiteful.

According to Mansfield, she continuously rejected Brattan while she worked in a hostile work environment. In return, the complaint says he would often pile work in abundance on Mansfield since she refused to submit to his unwelcome sexual requests. An affirmative action complaint was filed against Brattan in November 2013. Sadly, the retaliation exacerbated and then Mansfield was “unlawfully terminated” the following June.

Toms River School District Sexual Harassment Settlement

Court records indicate that Mansfield has agreed to accept an offer of $150k to settle the sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit filed against the Board of Education in Toms River, New Jersey. According to the attorney representing the Board of Education, the settlement terms are still pending for approval from the insurance carrier that will cover the entire settlement payment. The sexual harassment and discrimination settlement is “bound by a confidentiality clause” that prohibits all individuals including Mansfield from making any future comments about the lawsuit.

Sexual Harassment Lawyer

If you have experienced sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace in New York City, Miami, New Jersey, or Philadelphia, contact a sexual harassment lawyer or discrimination attorney at the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC at 800-807-2209 for a free consultation. Our sexual harassment lawyers and discrimination attorneys are reliable resources to employees who experience sexual harassment and discrimination at work. They will listen to your complaint, examine your case, and provide valuable legal advice and the best legal representation in the tri-state area.