On May 4, 2023, Hudson County (NJ) agreed to pay $125,000 to settle a lawsuit filed in 2018 by a female detective, now deceased, who claimed that the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office (HCPO) discriminated against her due to her two pregnancies.

In her lawsuit, Erin Burns Rubas, who began her employment with the HCPO on May 5, 2007, alleged ongoing discrimination and retaliation by the HCPO based on her gender and pregnancies. Rubas alleged that after she chose to start a family after 13 years of working in law enforcement, the HCPO retaliated against her by revoking her on-call stipend, taking away her work vehicle, confiscating her crime scene equipment and passing her over for promotions three times.

Rubas claimed that discrimination began when she became pregnant in January 2015, with the HCPO taking away her on-call stipend, which they allegedly did to other pregnant female detectives as well. During a meeting, it was implied that “the guys” might have issues with her receiving the stipend during her pregnancies. When she mentioned filing a union grievance, she said that Chief of Investigations Gennaro Rubino “strongly cautioned against it.”

In December 2015, Rubas said that she was not informed of upcoming sergeant promotion interviews while she was on maternity leave. She was later told that she was passed over for promotion in 2016 due to her pregnancies, according to the lawsuit. Upon her return from maternity leave, Rubas said that was provided with an unreliable work vehicle and experienced other discriminatory actions.

In 2016, when the HCPO announced another round of promotions, Rubas became pregnant again but claimed to initially conceal it due to fear of further discrimination. She said that she faced inappropriate comments about her pregnancy from a Human Resources supervisor.

Despite her qualifications, excellent record, and seniority, Rubas claimed that was passed over for promotion in 2016 in favor of less qualified candidates. The discrimination continued, with her being passed over again in 2017 and 2018 causing her to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, according to the lawsuit.

In January 2017, Rubas applied for a detective position at the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office but claimed that she was denied due to negative job references allegedly related to her pregnancy.

Rubas alleged that she was subjected to a continuous pattern of discrimination and retaliation, which eventually led to her constructive discharge in May/June 2018. She said that HCPO officials refused to provide her with donated leave time and made it clear that her working conditions would not improve, and her promotional opportunities and benefits would be withheld due to her pregnancies.

According to the Settlement Agreement, Rubas resigned her employment on May 4, 2018 and that on April 21, 2022 Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez and Rubino were dismissed from the lawsuit leaving one claim against Hudson County.

According to an obituary, Rubas passed away on July 17, 2023 at age 44. The obituary also noted that Rubas, when she was hired in 2003, became Neptune City’s first female police officer.

The case is captioned Erin Burns Rubas v. Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office et al, Federal Case No. 2:18-cv-08223 and Rubas’s attorney was Aymen A. Aboushi of New York. The lawsuit and both settlement agreements are on-line here.

None of Rubas’ allegations have been proven or disproven in court. Settlement agreements typically state that payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Hudson County, the HCPO or any of their official or employees. All that is known for sure is that the County or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that they would rather pay Rubas $125,000 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps their decision to settle was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the defendants wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases settle before trial–it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened.

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project. Please send all comments to [email protected]