Black state worker sues NJ over alleged racial slurs at DOT yard
A Hackensack man is suing the state Department of Transportation, claiming the agency transferred him to a yard farther from his home after he complained about a supervisor using racial slurs.
Rowan Hector, who is black, claims the white DOT Fort Lee supervisor first referred to him as "n----er" while at work in January 2015.
Ronald Gallucci, who became Hector's supervisor in 2014, began regularly calling Hector by the slur "as though it was (his) name," the lawsuit, filed last month in Superior Court in Trenton, reads.
Among the phrases Gallucci used: "What are you doing now, n----r?", "N----r, do you have that done yet?" and "Hey, n----r, let's go over this."
On Dec. 3, 2015, Gallucci threatened to write up Hector for not fixing potholes after his shift ended, but Hector's second job prevented him from working overtime. Hector claims Gallucci was aware of his availability because DOT foremen fill out forms detailing their other jobs at the beginning of each year. Later that day, Gallucci called Hector and another black employee "cotton picker brothers."
The lawsuit further alleges that on Jan. 7, a day after he filed a discrimination complaint against Gallucci, the agency transferred Hector from the Fort Lee yard to Newark. The Newark yard is further from Hector's home and requires him to drive through more tolls.
DOT spokesman Steve Schapiro decline to comment on the specific allegations of the lawsuit.
"Any time there is an allegation of inappropriate behavior, we conduct an internal investigation and are prepared to take appropriate action," Schapiro said.
Gallucci couldn't be reached for comment Friday.
Hector's lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of damages claiming retaliation, economic losses and emotional distress under the state Law Against Discrimination.
Hector earns a base salary of nearly $49,000. Gallucci earns $66,000. Both have 30 years of service with the state, records show.
Hector is represented by David Zatuchni of Lambertville.