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Detective gets $730K in settlement after accusing N.J. town, police chief of discrimination

NJ.com logo NJ.com 4/15/2022 Steven Rodas, nj.com

A lawsuit filed by a detective alleging his police chief and the town discriminated against him due to a medical condition ended in a $730,000 settlement last July, NJ Advance Media has learned.

Richard Taylor, who was a detective and police officer in Voorhees at the time of the alleged incidents, accused Police Chief Louis Bordi and the town in 2019 of violating the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination as well as his constitutional right to privacy.

“The township agreed to the settlement after mediation and by the recommendation of legal counsel. The majority of the settlement was paid by the (town’s) insurance company,” Stuart Platt, who represented the town in the lawsuit, told NJ Advance Media on Thursday. Platt noted that as part of the settlement, Bordi was dismissed from the lawsuit.

Bordi did not immediately respond for comment.

Patricia Barasch, Taylor’s attorney, also did not reply to calls seeking comment. Taylor could not be reached.

As part of the settlement, Taylor — who had been fired prior to the lawsuit according to Platt — agreed to not seek re-employment with the township and all parties stipulated that no one is accountable for wrongdoing in the allegations.

Taylor, who worked for the township for 17 years at the time of the suit, was placed on leave of absence at the recommendation of his physician in the Fall of 2017 due to medical a condition he had long faced, according to the lawsuit which NJ Advance Media obtained Monday through an Open Public Records Act request.

In January 2018, Taylor was cleared to return to work with a note from his physician but was told by Captain April Herrington-Bordi — the police chief’s wife — that the note was “unacceptable” because it came from a psychiatrist, according to the suit. NJ Advance Media is not disclosing the nature of Taylor’s medical condition to protect his privacy.

Over the next month, the suit stated, Taylor was asked to list medications he took that could affect his abilities as a police officer and was told that in order to remain a detective he had to sign a “contract” agreeing over the next three months to complete outstanding paperwork and close 2017 cases he was working on.

In May 2018, Herrington-Bordi told Taylor he would be demoted to a patrol officer, the suit said.

According to court documents, when Taylor approached Chief Bordi about the demotion he allegedly said: “At the end of the day, I am the Chief, and I run the day-to-day operations. I have the final say as far as officer assignment and I put people where I want.”

After receiving additional clearance to return to work, Taylor alleged in the suit that the township and Bordi required him to be evaluated by a psychologist. The psychologist declared Taylor fit for work and recommended weekly counseling, the lawsuit said. Internal affairs charges were then brought against Taylor for delaying in providing Bordi and the township of Voorhees the list of medications he took, the suit said.

Taylor, who ultimately provided the list of medications, could return to “light duty capacity” but should enter three months of counseling before he was cleared for a full return to duty according to the psychologist, the lawsuit said.

On Nov. 20, 2018, Taylor received a “preliminary notice of disciplinary action” from Bordi and the township “seeking his termination from employment on the ground that, since the expiration of (a medical leave on Oct. 18, 2018), he has been ‘absent without leave from duty,” the lawsuit states.

Taylor claimed in the civil lawsuit that the township failed to provide him reasonable accommodation for his disability, retaliated against him for taking a medical leave of absence and discriminated against him due to his disability.

“(Taylor) further alleges that … (Police Chief) Bordi aided and abetted in the discrimination and retaliation against (him) in violation of the provisions of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination…,” according to the civil suit.

The alleged retaliation caused Taylor to lose wages and benefits, including loss of pension benefits, as well as take on emotional distress, he said in the lawsuit.

Taylor received $500,000 and his attorney, Barasch of Schall & Barasch, received $230,000 from the Township of Voorhees and its insurance company as part of the settlement.

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Steven Rodas may be reached at srodas@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him @stevenrodasnj.

©2022 Advance Local Media LLC. Visit nj.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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