Director of Property Improvement Files Lawsuit Against Asbury Park

A lawsuit has been filed earlier today (Feb. 7) in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Monmouth County against the City of Asbury Park, Mayor John Moor and Michael Capabianco, the city of Asbury Park’s Chief Executive and Administrative Official by Robert McKeon, the city’s Director of its Property Improvement and Neighborhood Preservation Department.

The lawsuit alleges that, in retaliation for McKeon disclosing and challenging wrongdoing by city officials and employees impacting on the city’s responsibility to ensure safe and habitable living conditions for its residents, the city has unlawfully kept McKeon from performing his duties as director, and is pursuing termination of his employment based on baseless and fabricated disciplinary charges against him alleging serious misconduct.

When contacted about the lawsuit Moor said he had not seen it. He said he could not comment because it was a personnel matter. He also said this is the second lawsuit McKeon has filed against the city. The first one was filed in the summer.

In July 2014, the city hired McKeon as the Director of Property Improvement & Neighborhood Preservation, vesting in him the authority and responsibility to fulfill the obligations of the department in ensuring safe and habitable living conditions for the citizens of the City of Asbury Park.  As Director, he has been unwavering in his commitment to ensure the Department’s strict compliance with the City’s Property Maintenance and Housing Codes in order to protect the health and safety of City residents.

In his Complaint filed in Superior Court today, McKeon alleges that the City of Asbury Park violated New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act (“CEPA”) by retaliating against him based on his having objected to activities by officials and employees of the City of Asbury Park which he believed to be in violation of the City’s Property Maintenance and Housing Codes, thereby putting the health and safety of City residents in danger.  In the Complaint McKeon also alleges that the City of Asbury Park is retaliating against him for his having filed internal complaints of both discrimination and retaliation, and that it is interfering with his rights under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act by refusing to allow him to return to his duties as Director despite documented clearance from his treating providers.

McKeon is represented by the firm of Schall and Barasch, LLC in Moorestown. Patricia Barasch, McKeon’s lead attorney, stated that “the New Jersey State Legislature enacted the Conscientious Employee Protection Act for the very purpose of protecting employees like Robert McKeon who are willing to speak out against what they see as unlawful conduct by those in positions of power, especially when the conduct impacts the health and safety of citizens of the State of New Jersey.”

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