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Attorney: Harassment lawsuit on docket

A former Rockville Centre laborer's sexual harassment lawsuit against the village is likely to go to trial early next year, said an attorney for the worker.

Harry Janssen, a former village public works employee who worked for Rockville Centre from May 2003 to September 2004, sued the village in 2006.

Janssen, who seeks $1 million in damages, alleges he was the subject of discrimination by village officials and harassment by fellow employees because he is bisexual, said his attorney, Thomas Stock of Mineola.

Janssen's case has been placed on the trial calendar at State Supreme Court in Nassau County, Stock said. The parties are waiting for Judge Thomas Phelan to set a trial date, which will probably happen in the fall, Stock said.

The trial itself will likely begin in January or February, said Stock, who added that his client was subjected to everything from physical abuse -- including being hit with a backhoe -- to death threats.

"He's going to win because he has been discriminated against," Stock said.

Attempts to reach Janssen were not successful.

Rockville Centre officials will likely continue to decline to comment on the case as it nears trial, said Jeff Kluewer, a spokesman for the village.

"When litigation is going on, we really can't comment on it," Kluewer said. "It's going to be months before anyone is going to have anything to say on this."

The suit alleges Janssen was subjected to "intimidating, hostile and offensive slurs, jokes, comments and inquiries, threatening and abusive telephone calls, ridicule and insult" during his time with the village.

Despite Janssen's complaints to managers, the harassment continued to be "severe and pervasive enough to create an objectively hostile and abusive work environment," the suit alleges.

Janssen's lawsuit named the village and several colleagues. The court dismissed the claims against the colleagues, and the trial will concern the claims against the village, Stock said.

According to the lawsuit, the village ordered Janssen to "undergo repeated and unnecessary medical testing and examinations," including repeated drug testing. The tests were part of a pattern of discrimination against Janssen, the suit states.

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