New Jersey Employment Lawsuit Alleges Cop Sent Racist and Homophobic Text Messages

Victor “Buddy” Amato, one of New Jersey’s most visible animal control officers, has resigned following a NJ discrimination lawsuit alleging he sent racist and homophobic texts within his agency. Under New Jersey law, race discrimination and sexual orientation discrimination is illegal.

The suit was filed in Monmouth County Superior Court by Suzzane DesMaris of Jackson, NJ. She was a volunteer investigator who was hired last August and worked under Amato’s supervision. DesMaris claims she was forced out of her position after complaining about Amato’s behavior.

“I have never in my life seen anything that bad,” Sue DesMarais, who first became a sworn officer in 1997 and started as a volunteer investigator for the animal-protection agency last August, told BuzzFeed News. Her suit names Amato and the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). Under New Jersey law, the SPCA is a law enforcement agency.

DesMarais sent screenshots of the alleged texts to Buzzfeed. The content of the allegedly racist messages ranged from comparing Michelle Obama to a monkey to threatening Reverend Al Sharpton with a “bullet in his head.” Another message, apparently adapting a Christmas song, allegedly invokes Santa, sodomy, and a “guy with a slit for a dick.” Yet another asks for advice on hygiene products from female agents after Amato ostensibly announced plans for a “sex change operation.”

Amato, who headed the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for 12 years, told the Asbury Park Press the texts were “a bunch of jokes” between “a bunch of guys” that reached a person who wasn’t supposed to get them.

You do not Have to Stand for Harassment at Your New Jersey Workplace

What is funny to one person may be highly offensive to another. Even if you are not the direct target of offensive comments, you still might be able to a file a lawsuit.

For example, DesMarais, who filed suit against Amato, was not the target of these alleged offensive texts her boss sent. However, the messages and the overall misconduct caused a hostile work environment. Additionally, her lawsuit claims she was “forced out” of her position because she reported the behavior – she may have a claim for wrongful termination or constructive discharge.

Contact the race and sex discrimination lawyers at the Arcè Law Group today if you believe you have been affected by harassment or discrimination at work. Our New York & New Jersey attorneys offer free consultations and in most cases do not accept any legal fees unless we successfully recover money on your behalf. Click Here To Contact Us Online.

By Bryan Arcé | Published March 19, 2015

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