RED BANK: HR HEAD AXED IN ‘RESTRUCTURING’
By JOHN T. WARD
The Red Bank government’s personnel director lost her job Monday, one business day after she filed a harassment complaint against borough Business Administrator Ziad Shehady, redbankgreen has confirmed.
Eva Biviano, a seven-year borough employee who served as director of human resources and payroll, was informed Monday that her position “has been eliminated, and her last day will be at the end of the month,” Mayor Pasquale Menna told redbankgreen Monday afternoon.
“As part of the overall restructuring of government services, a number of administrative changes have been planned,” Menna said. “This is one of the positions that have been eliminated.”
Through her brother Lane Biviano, an attorney, Biviano filed a complaint last Friday against Shehady, claiming he had subjected her and other borough employees to “ongoing harassment, bullying, verbal abuse (including screaming) and otherwise threatening and aberrant behavior.”
redbankgreen reported on the complaint at noon on Monday. Afterward, her brother said that Biviano had been told by Shehady a short while earlier that “her position was being eliminated and she’s on administrative leave,” Lane Biviano said.
Asked if the timing of the job elimination would appear suspect in light of Biviano’s complaint, Menna said: “I won’t address that, because it would address whether she was previously made aware of” the pending job elimination.
Lane Biviano, however, said his sister learned of the post’s elimination only when Shehady informed her of it on Monday.
Moreover, as the hiring authority, only the mayor and council could legally terminate his sister’s employment, said Biviano, whose résumé lists stints as borough administrator in Atlantic Highlands and four other New Jersey municipalities. And that could only be done after she’d been given a so-called Rice notice, alerting her that her job was going to be discussed out of the public’s view, he said.
“Eva was never issued a Rice notice, he said.
“On it’s face, it looks like a smokescreen,” he said of the mayor’s explanation. “What does that look like? Retaliation?”
Asked if Biviano should have been given a Rice notice, Menna referred redbankgreen to borough Attorney Greg Cannon, who did not immediately respond to an inquiry.
Menna said Biviano would be paid through the end of the month. Asked if she was told not to return to work, he said, “she doesn’t have to, no.”
Though she’s out of a job, Biviano’s complaint still “has to be investigated,” Menna said. The matter has been referred to the borough’s labor attorney, he said.
Lane Biviano said that unlike a lawsuit that seeks monetary damages, his sister’s complaint, filed with the borough clerk, was aimed at getting Shehady to change his alleged behavior and “act like an adult.”
It also included a demand that the borough “promptly arrange for a medical evaluation of Mr. Shehady to determine Mr. Shehady’s mental or emotional fitness.”
Shehady did not respond to requests for comment.
Menna said other jobs are earmarked for elimination, but declined to say which ones and when.