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Ridley Park’s Settlement Agreement with Terry Bradley
Recently, my neighbor asked me about the Borough’s Settlement Agreement with former Borough Manager Terry Bradley. He said he heard conflicting accounts. I thought this was presented clearly months ago but apparently not.
Terry Bradley’s December 1, 2009 settlement amounted to twelve weeks pay plus four months of health insurance on the condition that she would not sue the Borough for “harassment in the workplace”. This agreement ended up costing the Borough two weeks pay or $2,500 more than Terry would have been paid if her employment ended on January 5, 2010. That’s because her contract included a five week severance clause, similar to former Borough Manager Bob Poole’s contract.
The more important question to ask is why there was even a need for a settlement agreement in the first place. Terry Bradley said she would not work for the incoming Council because of her experience with them. She said would sue the Borough for “harassment in the workplace” unless there was a settlement agreement. This was explained to all of Council and the Mayor during an Executive Session meeting and to the residents during the November Council meeting. The Borough’s Labor Attorney said that because of the circumstances of this case, it could cost the Borough $20,000 just to defend against this lawsuit and much more if the Borough lost this case. Based on this advice and that of the Borough Solicitor, the Borough Council voted to accept the Settlement Agreement rather than fight the case in Federal Court.
Terry Bradley’s claim of hostility in the workplace was based on numerous incidents that occurred during her employment with the Borough. These are a matter of public record and are in the Police Reports. One of the more recent incidences occurred on November 3, 2009, the night of the election when Councilor-elect Sue Murtha called Terry’s personal phone. Soon afterwards another call was made to Terry from the same cell phone. These calls were after work hours and were made to her personal phone and had nothing to do with Borough business. In the Police Report of November 3, 2009, Police Chief Tom Byrne noted “the calls being made were in my opinion harassment”. That night, the Chief called Carole Nasella, Republican Committeeperson and Chair of the Ridley Park Victory Committee, who put Bob Boland, co-chair of the Republican Party, on the phone. Bob Boland told the Chief that he was “with the subjects in question, and that he would get them together and tell them that they are not to make calls to the Borough Manager or anyone else”. No other calls were made.
There were other incidents that Terry Bradley filed with the police. These included three separate occasions where her family van’s tires were slashed or spiked by some jerk. Terry paid for the new tires. She received two threatening anonymous letters. She even had a defendant in a code enforcement case follow her back to Borough Hall after the court case at the District Justice’s office.
It seems ironic that some elected Republicans have denied that these claims amount to harassment. It was a member of the Republican Party and currently a member of Borough Council who made the phone call that even the Police Chief considered harassment. Where is the concern for the victim? I don’t know of any other Borough Manager that had spikes put in the tires of their family car and had to put up with these types of intimidation.
Certainly, we should all desire that the Borough provide a safe work environment for employees, one that is free from harassment and intimidation, and a place where there is respect for diversity. These are basic rights protected in the Constitution.
Some may have preferred a long case in Federal Court but I believe the previous Council acted in the best interests of the Borough by settling this claim out of court.