The former personal secretary of Glenn Jorgensen, who resigned last month as Smithtown Highway Superintendent, will receive $75,000 in the settlement of a sexual harassment lawsuit.
Town board members on Tuesday voted unanimously, 5-0, to approve the settlement with Aimee-Lynn Smith as part of negotiations with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
In a Dec. 5 notice of claim, Smith, 27, of Manorville said Jorgensen, 64, of St. James sexually harassed her and created a hostile work environment until he fired her in October 2014, after learning she was dating a highway department worker.
Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said outside counsel -- Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, with offices in Ronkonkoma and Bridgehampton -- recommended the settlement. "The fact that we paid $75,000 of taxpayer dollars for a sexual harassment suit is quite bothersome," he said. "But we can't control the actions of employees, department heads or even elected officials."
Jorgensen, who last month pleaded guilty in State Supreme court to a felony and a misdemeanor related to falsifying documents on a November paving project, in an interview late Tuesday denied Smith's claims.
Marc Kramer, Smith's Patchogue-based attorney, and Town Attorney Matthew Jakubowski both declined to comment on the case Tuesday, citing a confidentiality clause in the settlement.
Vecchio said the town has a policy that "tells employees and others how to comport themselves with the other gender."
The town was involved in the litigation because it runs the policy and is "therefore responsible for elected officials . . . I think elected officials ought to be responsible for themselves," Vecchio said.
Jorgensen was elected highway superintendent in 2009 and re-elected in 2013.
A copy of the settlement obtained by Newsday mandates that town employees undergo a training session designed for them to recognize and report actions that may be the basis for a sexual harassment claim.
The initial round of training for current employees must be completed within a year of the agreement, and all new hires must go through the one-time training within six months of being hired or appointed.
The agreement also said the settlement should not be construed as an admission by the town or Jorgensen of violating local, state or federal laws; and it released them from future claims.
Councilman Edward Wehrheim said he voted for the settlement because legal counsel said if they challenged it, "we would expect to pay out far more than $75,000."
Smith had sought at least $200,000 in damages, plus compensation for loss of income and reimbursement for therapy.Councilwoman Lynne C. Nowick said she wants all town employees and elected officials to be trained in how to conduct themselves and on conflict resolution. "I think we could save a lot of money on lawsuits if people were trained," she said.