The Town of Harrison agreed to pay former firefighter Angela Bommarito $450,000 and to adopt “wide ranging policy changes” over charges the Town never took action against a male firefighter who admitted to harassing her.
The lawsuit was brought by the civil rights division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York, which says this is one of the largest payments by a local government in an employment discrimination case brought by the United States on behalf of a single individual.
As part of the Consent Decree, which is a decree made by a judge with the consent of all parties, Harrison and the Harrison Fire Department admit:
In 2015, they became aware that after Bommarito ended a relationship with Henry Mohr, a senior firefighter, Mohr repeatedly called her, stalked her (including while driving an official Fire Department vehicle), and drove by her house. Bommarito complained to certain members of the Harrison Fire Department leadership about Mohr’s harassment.
In January 2016, Bommarito went to the Harrison Police Department and filed a report against Mohr. Then-Police Chief Anthony Marraccini, (who later served time for tax evasion) met with Mohr and told him that he wanted “to make sure this whole thing dies” and get Mohr “out of this whole situation.” The Police Chief said to Mohr that Bommarito’s presence at the firehouse was a “temptation,” which was “hard to resist sometimes.”
The Police Chief also met with Bommarito. During their meeting, he suggested that he could arrest Bommarito for her presentation of what the Police Chief claimed was incomplete and false information to the Police Department regarding her relationship with Mohr. The Police Chief prepared a resignation letter for Bommarito, which stated that she would resign from the Fire Department. Bommarito signed the resignation letter.
Harrison and the Harrison Fire Department never took any disciplinary action against Mohr. In May 2016, Mohr was arrested for his harassment of Bommarito. Later that year, Mohr pled guilty to harassment in the second degree, in violation of New York Penal Law 240.26.03.
The Department is now ordered to maintain an anti-discrimination policy that includes prohibitions on discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation, as well as provisions that require objective fact-finding investigations into complaints of policy violations.
Harrison Councilwoman Lauren Leader, who has been outspoken in her support for Bommarito for several years, said the outcome has “finally made this right.”
“All employees deserve a workplace free from sexual harassment and must be able to report harassment without fear of retaliation by employers, said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously pursue all cases to ensure that all workers are guaranteed the rights and protections promised by our Nation’s laws.”