Another detective has filed a workplace discrimination lawsuit against the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office.
Fiore is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, as is a supervisor of Renner’s, Lt. Robert Hemphill.
Renner’s suit, filed Monday in Gloucester County Superior Court by attorney Jacqueline Vigilante, contends the Prosecutor’s Office “has long tolerated a work environment that is hostile to women and racial minorities.”
In a statement Tuesday, Vigilante said: “No employee … should be subjected to the kind of humiliation and retaliation that Det. Renner had to endure for the last few years. … Sadly, in this instance, the offensive conduct appears to have been not only tolerated but rewarded.”
When Fiore became prosecutor in November 2017 — replacing Sean Dalton — he “allowed the harassment and hostility to continue and worsen,” the suit alleges.
Fiore also made offensive comments to Renner, the suit says, citing as an example a June 2018 employee golf outing at which Fiore allegedly asked Renner and her wife: “Who is the bitch in the relationship?” and “How do you guys have sex?”
Fiore’s wife grabbed Renner’s wife, turned her around, and rubbed against her “in front of a number of people,” the suit says.
Reached by phone Wednesday, Fiore said the allegations “are totally inaccurate and not true.”
Regarding Renner’s supervisor, the suit alleges that over the past two years, “Hemphill has engaged in a pattern of conduct which has discriminated and retaliated against plaintiff including in the assignment of vehicles, interference with her [Crime Scene Investigation Unit] job duties and harassing, humiliating and embarrassing plaintiff in front of her peers.”
Hemphill, reached by phone, referred questions to Chief Thomas Gilbert, who is also the office’s public information officer. Gilbert did not immediately return a phone call.
The alleged “outrageous sexual harassment” against Renner started in 2011 when another detective, Keith Palek, made inappropriate comments about her body and exposed himself to her, the suit contends.
A message left for Palek was not immediately returned Wednesday.
Renner complained to supervisors, and an internal investigation resulted in charges against Palek for an ethics violation and against two supervisors for a failure to supervise, but harassment continued, the suit says.
Renner’s lawsuit is the third against the Prosecutor’s Office. It follows two others filed by Detectives Bradd Thompson and Eric Shaw, which have contended that they were subjected to “military harassment,” in particular by a captain in the office, Robert Pietrzak, because the two detectives serve in the military reserves. Pietrzak was accused in the lawsuits of having called Shaw and Thompson “double dippers” or “two scoops,” alleging that they were unfairly receiving more income because of their military service.
Thompson’s suit, which ended in a 2016 settlement, also alleged that Pietrzak made anti-Semitic comments to Thompson, whose wife is Jewish.
The Prosecutor’s Office was named as the defendant in Thompson’s and Shaw’s suits. Lawyers for the office have denied that Pietrzak made anti-Semitic comments or subjected either detective to “military harassment.”
The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office has been investigating employee discrimination complaints in the Prosecutor’s Office, according to court filings in Shaw’s lawsuit and former employees. Fiore, in an email to staff, said he was resigning for family reasons and to pursue “other ventures in the private sector.”
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, in appointing a deputy director from his office, Christine A. Hoffman, to serve as acting Gloucester County prosecutor, has not said whether the ongoing discrimination complaints prompted the change.