HACKENSACK, N.J. -- A former Hackensack Middle School assistant principal said her boss touched her inappropriately, asked her about buying sex toys and made other lewd comments -- once while grabbing his crotch -- before abruptly leaving the job after she complained to district officials.
Supervisors and colleagues then harassed Denise Vega-Moore, alleges a lawsuit filed in Superior Court in Hackensack that names more than two dozen defendants, including the city Board of Education.
Ex-Principal Corey Jones grabbed her around the waist one time, put his arm around her another, and once suggested she dress up as a “sexy elf with high boots, a short skirt and a shirt that ties behind the neck" for a PTA fundraiser, the suit filed by Vega-Moore, 41, contends.
Another time he grabbed his crotch and made comments about the size of his genitals, it says.
Given that she wasn’t tenured, Jones cautioned her to “stay in her lane,” Vega-Moore’s suit charges.
An attorney for the district contended the Board of Education did nothing wrong.
Vega-Moore alleges a “well-known culture of tolerance for sexual harassment and protection of harassers" by district administrators in the lawsuit.
They began investigating, she claims, and Jones was gone a month later -- although it was unclear whether he resigned or didn’t have his three-year contract renewed.
Before he left, Jones conducted her annual performance review despite the accusations she’d brought against him, the lawsuit charges, adding that he did so in an “aggressive and combative manner.”
Jones couldn’t be reached for a response. He has since gone on to found and become executive director of the non-profit Project Excelsior at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.
Vega-Moore in her suit says she noticed a “shift” in her treatment by supervisors and co-workers at the Union Street school after Jones left the district – including being given "more work on shorter notice and frequently [being] reprimanded for asking questions" while also being charged with sexual harassment herself.
One official texted her asking, “did you enjoy your sexual harassment today?” and adding: “…well that’s job security…don’t get mad,” , the lawsuit contends.
The district let Vega-Moore go in May 2017, after what she claims was her refusal to sign a disciplinary letter when she hadn’t done anything wrong.
District officials also tried to block her from collecting unemployment, her suit alleges.
Moore wants her job back, along with back pay, damages and reimbursement for legal fees.
CLICK HERE for a copy of the lawsuit: Moore_V._Hackensack_BOE_-_Complaint_copy.pdf
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