On March 8, 2017, Phyllis Boehm, a confidential secretary for the Buena Regional School District (Atlantic County), filed a hostile work environment lawsuit claiming that Business Administrator Pasquale Yacovelli gave a $10,000 raise to a secretary who worked “on a different side of the building” so that she would become his secretary and ultimately his lover. Boehm claimed that the secretary, who is referred to in the lawsuit as “Jane Doe,” was her friend and that Yacovelli asked her talk to Jane Doe about his interest in her.
According to Boehm, Yacovelli would say things to her such as “Hook a brother up” and make comments about Jane Doe’s body “and say that he wanted her sexually.” Jane Doe was apparently not averse to Yacovelli’s interest because, according to the complaint, when Yacovelli allegedly asked whether “it’s a red light, green light or yellow light,” Jane responded “Perhaps yellow light.”
When Yacovelli asked Jane if she wanted to be his secretary, she reportedly “laughed and said, ‘If you get me a $10,000 raise, I’ll be your secretary.'” According to the lawsuit, Jane became Yacovelli’s secretary in September 2015 and Yacovelli “used his influence as Business Administrator to get Jane the ten thousand dollar raise she wanted.”
Thereafter, according to the complaint, Yacovelli and Jane Doe would regularly “steal school time” to have sex in Yacovelli’s office. After one sexual encounter, Yacovelli allegedly “lifted one arm and pumped his fist” in Boehm’s presence and said “I wrecked it, Philly.” The pair also reportedly went to the Tropicana in Atlantic City and the Holiday Inn Express on Route 322 to have sex. According to the suit, Jane Doe told Boehm that Yacovelli was “a machine” and “would make comments about [his] sexual performance.”
Boehm said that she “was very uncomfortable with the whole situation” and that the Yacovelli’s and Jane Doe’s sexual activity and comments created “an environment that was hostile for women to work in [and] was in violation of [the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination].”
Readers should keep in mind that allegations in a lawsuit are just that–allegations. Nothing has been proven and both the school district and Yacovelli have filed responses to the lawsuit. Boehm is burdened with proving her case before a jury. The case is currently in the discovery phase.
Before working for Buena Regional, Yacovelli served as business administrator for the Ocean City Board of Education until his October 7, 2014 resignation. Until recently, Yacovelli served as a member of the Audubon Board of Education.