Three East Hampton Town Highway Department workers have reportedly agreed to withdraw complaints they filed with the New York Division of Human Rights against the department’s superintendent, Scott King.
According to Steven Stern of the Melville law firm Sokoloff Stern, which was hired by the Town of East Hampton’s insurer to represent Mr. King, one agreement has been signed by a worker and two have not, although one of the two said yesterday he expected to do so soon.
Meanwhile, a fourth Highway Department employee, Kevin Cobb, a foreman, has filed his own complaint, alleging mistreatment, retaliation, and harassment by Mr. King. That matter is pending.
Mr. King was unable to provide copies of the agreements. Mr. Stern confirmed their existence but declined to provide them, citing privacy concerns.
In handwritten filings made in the summer of 2011 with the Division of Human Rights, Luis Bahamondes, Wallace Trotman, and Ursan Bonilla made a range of allegations against Mr. King, citing what they said was racially and ethnically motivated job discrimination and verbal abuse.
Mr. Bahamondes, a 15-year veteran of the Highway Department, is originally from Chile, Mr. Trotman is African-American, and Mr. Bonilla identified himself on an official form as Spanish.
In his filed complaint, Mr. Bahamondes said, “Mr. King called me names behind my back.” He said he had been forced to cut grass in the rain and pick up trash and roadkill animals, assignments that were worse than or different from others who had the same employment title.
Mr. Trotman made similar allegations in his complaint, adding that he was denied a raise and training. He is the employee reported to have already signed the agreement.
Mr. Bonilla alleged that he was the victim of verbal abuse and that Mr. King told him he would not be allowed to drive a town snowplow for three years, following an incident in which a plow he was driving slid into another.
In a press release issued Tuesday afternoon, Mr. King, who is running for re-election, said the agreements called for two of the men to receive additional training in exchange for dropping the charges. The third would no longer have to pick up deer carcasses from the roads. He said he did not know which of the men had not signed the agreements. The accuracy of Mr. King’s characterization of what the agreements say could not be verified.
Mr. Bahamondes, a 15-year employee of the Highway Department, said yesterday he had just received the Human Rights Division paperwork, but that he was likely to sign. He said it was unfortunate that it took so long and required lawyers to get Mr. King to apologize.
A message left for Mr. Trotman was not returned. Mr. Bonilla could not be reached.
Mr. King attributed the supposed signing delay to politics. He said the two men who had not completed the agreements, which would result in the complaints being dropped, had declined to do so at the request of Elaine Jones, the head of the East Hampton Independence Party, which backed his opponent.
In a telephone interview late Tuesday, Ms. Jones rejected that allegation. “Scott King would like to believe that I am responsible for this, but it was the men that then filled out the complaints. I gave them the papers. They filled out the complaints; they sent them to the Human Rights commission.”
Mr. Bahamondes said Ms. Jones had nothing to do with his not signing the papers yet, and said he expected to do so soon. “Who is Elaine Jones? This is about us, the workers. She was just nice enough to help us get the forms.”
He said that workers like him were the backbone of the Highway Department and that he did not expect Mr. King to change his behavior, despite the agreements.
“If he gets re-elected, it’s just two more years of problems. If he doesn’t get re-elected, it will be like an early Christmas present,” he said.
Ms. Jones is related by marriage to Stephen Lynch, who is running on the Independence and Republican lines in Tuesday’s voting. Mr. King is running as a Democrat.