Anti-Semitism got him fired, ex-Bergen worker says
BY OSHRAT CARMIEL, STAFF WRITER
A former Bergen County parks employee who was fired in 2006 has sued the county, claiming that he repeatedly was subjected to anti-Semitic remarks on the job.
In the lawsuit, now in federal court, Jack Lovett, 76, a former ranger at the county’s Overpeck Golf Course in Teaneck, says that parks officials ignored his complaints that colleagues were referring to him as “Jack the Jew,” praising Adolf Hitler and making derisive comments about his religious affiliation.
“Nothing was ever done for him,” said Jamison Mark, Lovett’s attorney. “He was just left to hang out there.”
Brian Hague, a county spokesman, said Wednesday, the county would not comment on pending litigation.
When county officials fired Lovett from his job two years ago, they accused him of illegally selling golf equipment from his car and his locker at the golf course, according to his suit and his attorney.
But the accusation, according to Lovett’s suit, was just another part of the harassment.
“When they fired him, they found a ton of stuff in his locker,” Mark said.
There was nothing improper about why it was there, Mark added.
“A lot of the people would come by and give him golf balls and golf equipment, and he would take it and donate it to charitable organizations,” Mark said.
It was not the first accusation Lovett endured in the workplace, according to the suit. Another colleague accused Lovett of taking money to allow players to begin their rounds on the back nine holes of the course, it claims. An investigation did not substantiate that claim, according to court records filed by the county and Lovett.
Lovett, of Fort Lee, was a seasonal employee for the county, starting in 1998. He worked only during the months that the golf course was open. In 2005, his last full year of employment he made $5,136, according to county payroll records.
He worked as both a golf starter and a golf ranger, responsible for supervising golfers’ start times and roaming the course to ensure that games moved along, his attorney said.
According to the suit, the harassment began in 2000 by another golf ranger, who made derogatory references to Lovett, all prefaced by the word “Jew.” He also suggested to Lovett that “Jews should move out of the way,” the lawsuit says.
After he complained about the harassment, officials changed Lovett’s shift so that he would not have to work alongside the person who allegedly made those comments. But the harassment continued, according to the suit, when the golf course manager — Lovett’s supervisor — publicly praise Hitler in front of Lovett and another employee.
“That was witnessed by someone,” Mark said.
Lovett’s civil rights suit, seeks his job back in addition to damages, his attorney said.