MORRISTOWN NJ April 23 2017 - A Morris County civil jury has found the Randolph Board of Education liable for $150,000 in damages to a 25-year school district security officer who suffered cutbacks in hours and pay and then was retaliated against after he filed a lawsuit in 2012 for age discrimination.
The seven-person jury that heard the three-week trial before Superior Court Judge W. Hunt Dumont in Morristown late Thursday awarded $150,000 in emotional distress damages to Charles "Skip" Kazaba Jr., now 64 and living in Rockaway Township. Kazaba, the brother of retired Randolph Township Police Chief Dean Kazaba, started his security position at the Randolph schools in 1991 and still is employed there but expects to retire soon.
"It's egregious what happened," said attorney Timothy J. McIlwain, who represented Kazaba, a former National Guardsman. "We're really happy. We had 12 trial dates before it actually went to trial. We've been fighting this a long time."
Attorneys that represented the school district, including Robert Gold and Walter Laufenberg, did not immediately return a call for comment.
The jury did not find that the district discriminated against Kazaba because of his age by changing the terms and conditions of his long-time employment. But the jury did find that the school district retaliated against Kazaba after he filed his age discrimination lawsuit, a protected activity. The $150,000 award was for Kazaba's past emotional distress caused by the hostile work environment and retaliation.
In January 2005, after 14 years on the job, the district attempted to re-categorize Kazaba's salary scale until he provided the criteria under which he was hired. Two years later, a school principal tried to change Kazaba's employment from 12 months to 10 months but the union intervened, according to his lawsuit, which charged that the treatment was an effort to diminish his worth as an employee.
In 2008, Kazaba's work schedule was reduced from 12 months to 10 months, resulting in a salary cut from $58,180 to $48,357, the lawsuit said. By 2011, he was told he could no longer work overtime jobs at special school and sports events, the complaint said.
After filing his lawsuit - which stated that Kazaba had not been promoted in years and was barred by the district from contacting police about any student-related incidents until supervisors were first advised - the retaliation began. Kazaba appeared in municipal court on a traffic incident involving a student in 2012 but the school principal said he wouldn't be paid for his appearance.
Kazaba also had cited another retaliatory act in that he was required to attend an eight-hour training class in August 2013 but was not paid for his attendance by the district.