RED BANK: SHEHADY ACCUSED OF HARASSMENT
Red Bank Business Administrator Ziad Shehady at borough hall in June. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
SEE UPDATE BELOW
By JOHN T. WARD
Five months after he took the job, Red Bank’s business administrator is facing a harassment complaint, redbankgreen has learned.
In a complaint filed on behalf of human resources manager Eva Biviano last Friday, Ziad Shehady was accused of “ongoing harassment, bullying, verbal abuse (including screaming) and otherwise threatening and aberrant behavior.”
The complaint was filed with the borough clerk by Lane Biviano, Eva Biviano’s brother, a labor lawyer based in Rutherford, in Bergen County.
In it, Eva Biviano alleges multiple instances in which Shehady is alleged to have berated her or made crude remarks to her or other borough employees.
Shehady, a former Springfield Township mayor and business administrator who was hired by Red Bank in May, did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
Mayor Pasquale Menna told redbankgreen on Monday that he and other officials could not comment on the complaint because it involves personnel. He said the matter had been forwarded to the borough’s labor attorney, Mark Tabakin, of the Weiner Law Group, for review under employment policies.
Tabakin could not be reached for comment Monday.
Lane Biviano, a former borough administrator in Atlantic Highlands and former municipal attorney for Rutherford, said the complaint doesn’t seek money. Rather, he said, its aim is to get Shehady to “act like an adult” toward Eva Biviano, who he said has worked in human resources for three decades, the last seven with the borough.
“No one wants to go to work and be berated,” he said. “Eva’s a longtime professional. You don’t do things like this.”
In a cover letter to the filing, Biviano expressed concern for his sister’s “personal safety,” and said that borough police had been notified about the complaint “should it become necessary to obtain a restraining order against Mr. Shehady.”
The complaint also includes a “demand” that the borough “promptly arrange for a medical evaluation of Mr. Shehady to determine Mr. Shehady’s mental or emotional fitness.”
Among the alleged examples of abusive behavior detailed in the filing, Biviano said she was subjected to 20 minutes during which Shehady was “continually screaming, while interrupting me and otherwise berating me, personally” at a meeting.
The complaint also alleges Shehady “boasted of his sexual exploits with women” to an unnamed employee, who was “visibly shaken” by the remarks. At a birthday party for Shehady in August, Biviano contends he “boasted of drunken escapades while in the army.”
In May, Shehady told redbankgreen that he was a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, and deployed from 2004 to 2005, but declined to discuss his military service. At the time, he said he was still serving in the National Guard.
Biviano claims she spoke to Shehady on September 24 about his treatment of her and advised him that “he was not to speak to me or any other employee in this manner.” She said Shehady responded by threatening to write her up and place the report in her personnel file.
According to the complaint, not all of Shehady’s alleged ire was directed at Biviano. She claims that another borough employee had asked for a meeting to discuss “a legitimate concern for being underpaid while serving in an acting capacity in a higher position.
“While the employee was calmly addressing the issue, Mr. S. responded in a derogatory, slanderous manner, stating (actually screaming), ‘You are scamming the borough. Your scamming days with Stanley (the former Borough Administrator) are over,'” the complaint alleges.
“Stanley” appears to refer to Shehady’s predecessor, Stanley Sickels, who retired as borough administrator last December.
UPDATE: Lane Biviano tells redbankgreen that Shehady informed Eva Biviano on Monday that “her position was being eliminated and she’s on administrative leave.”
“You file a complaint, and all of a sudden, you’re fired by the person who the complaint is against?” Lane Biviano said. “This is like textbook what not to do.”
redbankgreen was unable to immediately confirm the assertion. Shehady and Menna did not immediately respond to inquiries.