HEMPSTEAD, NEW YORK — Frederick K. Brewington of The Law Offices of Frederick K. Brewington has announced that his office has successfully represented two former employees and one current employee of Hempstead Town Sanitary District No. 7 —Jacqueline Urli, Daniel Faust and Douglas Hernandez —in their complaints before the New York State Division of Human Rights. The Division found probable cause that the Complainants were subject to, among other things, sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation, intimidation and unlawful termination.
By way of background, the Division reviewed the following facts. In August, 2018, at the end of a board meeting, Mr. Faust, a member of the Board of Commissioners and Ms. Urli’s supervisor, walked with Ms. Urli to the parking lot. Upon witnessing this, another Commissioner, Matthew Horowitz, said — in the presence of Commissioners John Mannone and Austin Graff — Ms. Urli was cheating on her husband with Mr. Faust. The following month, while reviewing an anonymous letter at a board meeting, Mr. Horowitz asked why the letter was not about him and, instead, that he and Ms. Urli should have an affair “so they write one about us.” Ms. Urli found this comment offensive.
Mr. Horowitz continued to harass Ms. Urli about having an affair. As she entered the board room, Mr. Horowitz said to Mr. Faust and Mr. Hernandez, the District Treasurer, “Did you hear I’m having an affair with Jackie?” He later turned to Ms. Urli and said “we should have a threesome” with Mr. Hernandez. When they went to the board room, Mr. Horowitz asked Mr. Mannone, Mr. Graff and Commissioner Thomas Lanning if they knew he was “having an affair with Jackie and Doug,” Mr. Lanning said, “No.” Mr. Horowitz continued, “Yeah, Dan is going to tell us what to do [and] put it on Facebook.” None of the other Commissioners said anything about Mr. Horowitz’ actions.
At another meeting, this time with the Attorney for the Sanitary District present, Mr. Horowitz continued to make inappropriate comments. Mr. Faust attempted to change the conversation by asking if the District would attend a “Halloween Fest” hosted by state Assemblyman Kevin Curran that would be followed by “Trunk or Treat.” Mr. Horowitz referred to the event as “Junk in the Trunk” — a crude reference to a woman’s part of her body — and continued to repeat the term. Mr. Mannone laughed at Mr. Horowitz’ comment and also joined in on the conversation. The District’s attorney did not say anything to Mr. Horowitz on his behavior.
By October 2018, the harassment later became physical as Mr. Horowitz touched Ms. Urli’s right arm during a computer software training session and made unwanted sexual advances and comments toward Ms. Urli. When she met with Mr. Horowitz again to train him on the computer software program, she became physically ill and unable to concentrate.
On November 1, 2018, at the General Meeting, the Board discussed the need for a sexual harassment policy. As the discussion devolved into lewd and inappropriate conversation. Commissioner Patrick Doherty asked Ms. Urli if she felt uncomfortable and she replied, “Yes, very!” Mr. Horowitz then said to her, “I told them at my job, anyone who accuses me of anything, better be prepared to have that happen to them.” Ms. Urli took that as a threat.
On November 19, 2018, Ms. Urli received an email from Mr. Graff accusing her of lying about an unrelated matter. The email was also sent to Mr. Corbett and the other commissioners. Ms. Urli said the email was a form of intimidation and a way to force her not to file a complaint against the District. Mr, Graff continued to call Ms. Urli a liar; only Mr. Doherty said that Mr. Graff was out of line.
Ms. Urli submitted a formal letter of complaint on November 27, 2018 to Mr. Faust, who acknowledged the letter and said it would be discussed at the next Board Meeting, which was scheduled for December 6, 2018. But instead of discussing the letter, Ms. Urli faced retaliation by Marcia Horowitz and Ann-Marie Mannone, two of the Commissioners’ wives. During the meeting, they sat closely to Ms. Urli and glared at her throughout the meeting. As the Board headed to the Executive Session, Ms. Horowitz yelled at Ms. Urli, “Don’t you stare at me!” followed by “Just you wait! Just you wait!”
During the meeting, the Board terminated Mr. Faust and Mr. Hernandez for signing on as witnesses to Ms. Urli’s complaint. In addition, Ms. Urli had most of her responsibilities removed, experienced isolation from her co-workers and embarrassment and humiliation. This has resulted in trouble sleeping, body pain and feelings of fear in anticipation of the next workday.
On February 7, 2019, Ms. Urli formally filed a complaint with the Human Rights Division. Mr. Faust and Mr. Hernandez also filed complaints, corroborating Ms. Urli’s testimony. Both Mr. Faust and Mr. Hernandez claimed Mr. Graff falsely accused them of continuing to provide dental insurance to former Commissioner Joseph Cibellus, who once ran for Mr. Graff’s post, without accepting payment from Mr. Cibellus. Mr. Graff posted these false accusations on Facebook and was reported by a local newspaper. Both men suffered loss of income, benefits, pension, dental and health insurance; mental pain and suffering, damage to name and reputation, of comfort, humiliation, shame, embarrassment, extreme mental nd emotional harm and stress, and injury to professional reputation. On August 27, 2019, the Human Right Division found “probable cause” that Ms. Urli faced sexual harassment, retaliation, intimidation and unlawful termination, and on September 12, 2019 determined that Mr. Faust and Mr. Hernandez were terminated in retaliation for acting as witnesses to Ms. Urli’s complaint.
“We are very pleased with the outcome,” said Fred Brewington of The Law Offices of Frederick K. Brewington. “What is disturbing about these events is not just the continuing harassment that our clients have had to endure, but the complicity of the other Commissioners, who were aware of the behavior of one of their own, but did nothing to stop it. Shame on them. It’s time to take out the trash.”