Discrimination Suit Filed

    Jorge Kusanovic, an East Hampton Town Parks and Recreation Department employee, filed a lawsuit in late August against the town alleging that he was discriminated against because of his race, age, and national origin.    
    An American citizen raised in Chile, he had filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2007. The lawsuit claims that “Jorge Kusanovic was subject to a continuous pattern of harassment as a Latino pioneer in the overwhelmingly white employment of East Hampton Town.”
    Following an investigation, the E.E.O.C. issued a letter on May 25 telling Mr. Kusanovic that the Department of Justice would not file suit on his discrimination charge; however, it said, no judgment had been made as to whether the claim was “meritorious.”
    The letter informed the worker that he had the right to file a civil lawsuit against the town within 90 days. As of Tuesday, Brian Sokoloff, the attorney who would represent the town in this matter, said the town had not yet been served with the suit.
    Mr. Kusanovic is asking for an award of $3 million for each of six causes of action and for back pay, with interest. His lawyer, Lawrence Kelly of Bayport, has recently commenced lawsuits against the town on behalf of several other clients.
     The alleged acts of discrimination date back to 2007, when Mr. Kusanovic had also filed an E.E.O.C. employment discrimination complaint. New incidents since then, his complaint says, occurred in retaliation for that filing.
    Mr. Kusanovic alleges that he was passed over for promotion “in favor of younger, white hires,” and complains that he was assigned to work at the Montauk Skate Park in an unheated building with no restroom.
    At the Amagansett Youth Park, where he was formerly stationed, the complaint says, he was prohibited from walking around the track, and from taking his shirt off during his lunch break, but that “young white employees” were allowed to do so and that, while other employees were issued a town car to do work-related errands, he was expected to use his own vehicle, without compensation.
    The complaint also refers to alleged occurrences prior to 2006, when a time clock was installed at the youth park. Before that, according to the complaint, Mr. Kusanovic was “harassed continually for baseless allegations of lateness or early departure.” The time clock indicated that he was arriving before his scheduled start of work, and leaving after scheduled hours, according to the complaint.
    Among other charges, Mr. Kusanovic also claims that “in order to harass and inflict harm” on him, he was assigned to clean the bathrooms at the youth park, relieving a cleaning crew of that duty; that he was locked out of his office at the park while it remained unused; that he was denied sick leave to accompany his wife to visit her sick mother in Chile; that supervisors “fabricated rationales” to take away his compensatory time, and that white supervisors prohibited him from having his wife deliver his lunch, “while white employees were allowed to have boyfriends and girlfriends visit them at the park at any time.”
    From 1999 to 2012 he was not paid at a rate in accordance with his job duties, as defined under Civil Service laws, the complaint states. In addition, it says, he was not offered the same scheduling flexibility as other workers.
    Mr. Kusanovic also claims that, at work, he was given a pamphlet with a photo of John Wayne in front of an American flag, and the words, “Now just why in the hell do I have to press 1 for English?”    
    The complaint calls the 2007 transfer of Mr. Kusanovic to the Montauk Skate Park an “exile” and a discriminatory action in retaliation for his support of a younger Latino female worker who, it says, was being sexually harassed by an older, white supervisor.


business as usual from the devils of east hampton