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Howell Files Response to Employees' Harassment Lawsuit

Administration files response denying allegations

The township of Howell has responded to a lawsuit filed by four current and former employees claiming discrimination and a hostile work environment and denied the allegations.

The original complaint filed in Monmouth County Superior Court was submitted by Angela Martino, Donna Ennas and Donna Balton and Lucy Ravally was added later.

In the lawsuit, the women accused Howell Township Court Administrator Dominick Pondaco of referring to them as "idiots," "monkeys" and a slur word for female anatomy. According to the complaint, the plaintiffs claimed Pondaco engaged in a pattern of "mentally abusive, sexually abusive, sexually harassing and offensive behavior."

According to the employees' attorney, Rosemarie Arnold, the women repeatedly asked for help from township officials.

The complaint says that the plaintiffs eventually went to the Howell Township Police Department. During an investigation by the police and township into the women's claims, Pondaco was put on paid administrative leave, the complaint states. Following the investigation Pondaco was returned to his regular duties.

Over the course of seven pages the township responded to the six counts in the lawsuit largely by denying the allegations made by the four women or putting the burden of proof on the plaintiffs.

Under the separate defenses section of their response the township, represented by the law firm of Dvorak and Associates LLC, said if the plaintiffs suffered damages, it was due to their own negligence or caused by a third parties whom the township had no control over.

Pondaco has separate legal representation. 

In the original complaint there was no specific amount of money being sought by the plaintiffs but their attorney Rosemarie Arnold said they were seeking financial damages for emotional distress and medical issues. The township's response includes a statement that the "Plaintiff's Complaint fails to state a cause of action upon which relief can be granted."

The township's response also claims they are "immune from suit," based on state statutes, and wants the suit dismissed.

ray December 20, 2012 at 06:38 PM
How could the township let this happen ridiculous I will pay for it even though I have nothing to do with it
Carolyn Ann December 20, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Welcome to Howell, where the Good Ole Boys still reign. So, the Twp of Howell feels there is nothing to this claim, but don't question that the 4 woman who came forward with the complaints are - what, all lying? Did they get put on leave with full salary as well, while this was investigated? Betcha they did not. Why was this investigated by the Twp. of Howell in the first place? The guy wirks for the court in Howell. Does no one else see the problem with that? And now that Pondaco is back @ his desk, how does Howell Twp. handle his paid salary without working? Do they take back vacation days & personal time? It is my sincere hope that something pops up somewhere in this person's history, or a casual remark he makes gets overheard that will bring him down. Then I will lead the petition for Pondaco to return funds that I believe he was never entitled to in the first place! And Howell Twp. wonders why their budget is in trouble! Indeed!
Nunya December 21, 2012 at 04:03 AM
Code enforcement in this town also picks and chooses who must abide by "code" and who does not. Perhaps someone should "investigate" that as well. Yep...... Welcome to Howell.
Johnny Boy April 15, 2013 at 02:35 PM
Just heard that TODAY Podanco was escourted out via the police and suspended without pay pursuant to an Order of a Judge in Monmouth County....could it be related?
Jim Flynn April 18, 2013 at 01:17 PM
AND the case was moved from Monmouth County to Middlesex County. Probably because of a conflict between Monmouth County Court and Howell Municipal Court

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