Photo Credit. Sussex County Judicial Center 43-47 High St, Newton, New Jersey by LourdesCam Licensed under CC BY-ND 4.0. No changes were made.

On May 24, 2023, Hardyston Township (Sussex County, NJ) agreed to pay $500,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by a former employee against the Township and a co-worker who the employee claimed was her supervisor.

In her complaint, Eva Giangrasso, who worked for the township from 2014 until her termination in 2019, claimed that her harasser was “Jeff Stablie,” which is likely a misspelling of Jeff Stabile, the Township’s Zoning Officer according to the 2023 Municipal Directory.

Stabile allegedly told Giangrasso that she “cleaned up well” and put his hands over hers on the computer mouse during training sessions. Giangrasso said that she reported these incidents and was assured by Township Manager Marianne Smith that Stabile had been warned. Giangrasso said that despite this, his inappropriate behavior continued.

According to Giangrasso, Stabile made inappropriate comments about “camel toe” when she wore yoga pants while she was performing her cleaning duties. When she stooped to get the garbage can from under his desk, Stabile allegedly said “while you’re down there” in a sexually suggestive manner. The complaint sets forth several other examples of Stabile’s allegedly inappropriate comments and conduct.

According to the Township’s response to an Open Public Records Act request, Jeffrey R. Stabile, Jr. is a “Comp. Tech/Specialist/Zoning Official” who has been employed by Hardyston since 2012 and is currently making an annual salary of $102,217.12. Giangrasso is listed as a “custodian” who was terminated on April 15, 2019.

On October 4, 2021, Superior Court Judge William J. McGovern dismissed some of the claims brought against Stabile personally.

The case is captioned Eva Giancrasso v. Hardyston, Docket No. SSX-L-142-19 and Giangrasso’s attorney was Thomas A. McKinney of Morristown. The civil lawsuit and settlement agreement are in a combined PDF file on-line here.

None of Giangrasso’s have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement states that the payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Hardyton, Stabile or any of Township’s officers or employees. All that is known for sure is that Hardyston or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Giangrasso $500,000 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants’ decision 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 resolve 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]