RED BANK: SILENCE BY ALL ON HARASSMENT

ziad shehady, stephen hechtBusiness Administrator Ziad Shehady, left, chatting with borough resident Stephen Hecht last May. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njRed Bank’s elected officials closed the books Wednesday night on a harassment complaint filed against borough Business Administrator Ziad Shehady.

But the public may never know the details of the case, or the recommendations that followed an investigation.

At its regular semimonthly meeting, the council voted to accept an “investigation report” into an unspecified affirmative action complaint filed last October 12, according to the agenda.

Though the complaint wasn’t specified, officials acknowledged that it was the one initiated by former human resources manager Eva Biviano. In it, she accused Shehady of subjecting her to months of “ongoing harassment, bullying, verbal abuse (including screaming) and otherwise threatening and aberrant behavior.”

Three days after filing her complaint, Biviano was told by Shehady that her position was being eliminated, according to her brother, Lane Biviano, an attorney who represented her.

Borough officials later said Biviano had two months’ notice that her job was on the line as part of an internal operations review.

The report, by outside labor council Weiner Law Group, was not made public. The resolution closing the matter, which said the council would “adopt the investigation report and recommendations,” won unanimous approval from the six-member council without any discussion. (Mayor Pasquale Menna is only allowed to vote in the event of a tie.)

So what’s in the report? Borough Attorney Greg Cannon told redbankgreen following the meeting that he couldn’t say, and that the document itself was “forever confidential.”

Asked how the public would know what steps were taken to investigate the claim, and what recommendations it made, Cannon responded, “they won’t. You’ll never know from here.”

The complainant has the right to release the report, Cannon said, but for the borough to do so would violate state law as it pertains to employee rights, he said.

“It’s to protect the employee,” he said.

Shehady, who had been on the borough payroll just five months when Biviano made her complaint, told redbankgreen prior to the meeting that he had not seen the report and didn’t know if it contained any recommendations for action.

He acknowledged, though, that he would likely be notified of any such action, because as administrator he would be responsible for implementing its recommendations.

redbankgreen has been unable to contact Biviano. Her brother, who once served as borough administrator in Atlantic Highlands, has not responded to phone messages left for him this week by redbankgreen.