With another discrimination suit still pending, Wall Township in Monmouth Country, New Jersey, and its insurance company will pay $500,000 to settle a lawsuit by Indian American former police officer Suresh Madhavan who claims he was subjected to a hostile work environment because of his race.
NJ.com reports that, in what Wall’s business administrator insisted was strictly a business decision, the township committee on Jan. 22 unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the settlement with Madhavan.
Madhavan’s was one of two discrimination suits filed against the township in 2018 in state Superior Court, both alleging racial discrimination and a hostile work environment within the police department, according to the report.
Both suits were filed only months after Wall Township and its insurer reached a $1.25 million settlement of a discrimination suit filed against the township by a former tax clerk who said he was ridiculed about his Jewish faith.
Critics have accused township officials of tolerating a toxic culture of hate, resulting in lawsuits that, despite liability insurance, nonetheless ended up costing taxpayers big money, an assertion officials have denied, the publication reported.
Madhavan, a 13-year veteran of the Wall Township Police Department before his departure in 2016, alleged in the suit that he had been subjected to verbal and other harassment because of his race, including being called the N-word, made to perform menial tasks around police headquarters, and having a second officer accompany him on patrol, it said.
Madhavan was forced out of the department in 2016 on what he alleged in the suit were trumped up disciplinary charges despite an otherwise spotless record, the report added.
Wall Township Administrator Jeff Bertrand said the committee’s unanimous vote to settle the Madhavan case was strictly a financial decision, based on the recommendation of the township’s insurance carrier, Summit Risk Services of Horsham, Pennsylvania, the report added.
Bertrand said Summit will pay $400,000, while the township will pay the remaining $100,000.
“The insurance company said that they believe the ongoing cost of litigation to them was excessive,” Bertrand said, told NJ.com.
Had the township insisted on trying the case and lost, Bertrand said, it might have been forced to pay a larger share of whatever amount was awarded to Madhavan.
“The town has looked inward,” Bertrand said. “We’re being painted as a racist community. We’re being painted as a racist department. That’s not true. That’s not true at all. We have very good officers. People in the police department are not judged by their physical attributes. They’re judged by their ability to do their jobs, by their morals, and by their professionalism.”