Inside Ocean County Government

Legal, Tuckerton

Tuckerton Settles for $65K in Sexual Harassment & Retaliation Lawsuit Involving Volunteer Firefighter

TUCKERTON – On April 6th, 2016 the Borough of Tuckerton awarded a female firefighter $65,000 to settle a lawsuit filed against senior fire company officials for retaliation after an intimate relationship broke off with one of the fire captains, according to copies of court documents recently made public by open government blogger John Paff.

In a lawsuit filed by Janette Dominski,  she claimed she began an intimate relationship with Lewis E. Eggert Jr, who was the fire captain, in December of 2012.

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According to a copy of the complaint made public by Paff earlier in August, on or about December 30th 2012, Captain Eggert kissed Dominski, while at the fire house. Another instance described in the complaint claimed that he pushed the plaintiff against a fire truck, although the two had allegedly agreed to keep their relationship separate from their positions with the fire company.

In January of 2013, Dominski, who was a probationary member of the Tuckerton fire company at the time, alleged that Eggert “became distant.”

Eggert subsequently decided that they should end their relationship, explaining that he did not want her to endure what his family put his ex-girlfriend, Hannah, through, according to the complaint. Hannah, a former member of the Tuckerton Fire Company, was allegedly forced out of her job similar to the way that Dominski’s tenure ended.

Soon after their relationship ended, Dominski stated that Captain Eggert “clearly threatened” her position with the Fire Department. She said that it all started with photographs taken of a fire scene posted on Facebook that quickly became an issue with Tuckerton Fire Company President, Charles Uhl. But it did not stop there. On January 31, 2013, Dominski alleged that she was accused by Captain Eggert, President Uhl, and other members of attending a Fire Academy Graduation, while, she claimed, she was in fact on standby at the station studying.

When she denied their accusations, Uhl and Eggert “continued to bully and humiliate” her, according to court documents filed on behalf of Dominski.

Dominski was ultimately relieved of her duties by Chief Eggert Sr., after his son, Eggert Jr., told him that she “had symptoms of asthma in cold weather in the past and that this information was not noted on her member application.” Dominski claimed that while this was true in her childhood, she had not suffered these symptoms for years, hence why it was never disclosed on her initial application. Dominski claimed in her lawsuit that she was required to undergo a second medical examination at her own expense.

Dominski’s lawyer alleged that when the harassment was brought to the attention of officials, Chief Eggert requested her presence at the February 3, 2013 meeting and told her that “he was upset with his son and found it dishonest that he did not learn about [His son’s] relationship [with Dominski] sooner” because he was upset, Chief Eggert claimed that, “he had changed his mind.” Dominski alleged that he suddenly threatened to bring Dominski up on charges for the late 2013 photos taken at a fire scene.

A hearing was conducted by President Uhl concerning the recent disciplinary charges brought against Dominski at the prior meeting. This hearing resulted in the continuance of Dominski’s suspension, along with a one year extension of her probationary period.

In June of 2013, Dominski claimed that there was a notice taped to her locker at the fire station that read “Janette Dominski leave the building and do not return until further notice. Lee Eggert, Chief.” After Dominski returned home, she claimed she was met by a police officer who informed her that she may be in violation of state law by possessing a prescription inhaler not prescribed to her. Dominski claimed that the inhaler belonged to her son. According to the lawsuit, Eggert had called the police after seeing the inhaler in Dominski’s bag.

In a letter sent by Chief Eggert, Dominski was told that she was “terminated from membership in the Tuckerton Fire Company No. 1 effective immediately.” 

Of the $65,000 paid out by Tuckerton to settle her lawsuit, Dominski received $38,324.56. Her attorney, Sebastian B. Lonno received $26,675.44 of the proceeds. Tuckerton also agreed to pay an undisclosed amount of mediation costs as a part of the settlement.

Read the full court documents published by Paff here.

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