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Friday, May 15, 2015

Former Fairfield mayor files discrimination suit against another former mayor.

Update: Sharp's suit settled for $75,000.

On March 6, 2015, former Fairfield Township mayor Michael Sharp filed a discrimination suit (Docket No. CUM-L-162-15) against former mayor (now Committee member) Joanne L. Servais, Committee member Michael Morton, former Committee members Don Taylor and Viola Thomas-Hughes and Russell Pierce, Richard Servais and Joseph Servais.  Sharp's attorney is John C. Eastlack of Cherry Hill.

In his lawsuit, which is on-line here, Sharp accused Joanne Servais's husband Richard and her son Joseph, along with Russell Pierce, of violating the Township's civil rights policy by referring to Sharp as "boy" in mid-2013.  Sharp also alleges that Pierce referred to current Mayor Benjamin Byrd and his running mate, Deputy Mayor Troy L. Pitts, Sr., as "monkeys."

Sharp claimed that he, Byrd, Pitts and Defendant Michael Morton are African-American while the rest of the defendants are Caucasian. He alleged that the comments "served to humiliate and degrade" him, Byrd and Pitts.

Separately, Sharp alleged that Joanne Servais maliciously prosecuted him by filing a harassment complaint (on-line here) against him that lacked probable cause.  He claimed that the complaint was dismissed on June 2, 2014 by the Millville Municipal Court.  Sharp alleged that Joann Servais, after the court dismissed her complaint, "began to make threats against witnesses who were present to testify" on Sharp's behalf and accused the judge of being "related in some fashion to Ms. Servais' political enemies thereby indicating that the Court was biased against her."

Sharp's lawsuit also took issue with a November 20, 2013 report (on-line here) by Moorestown attorney Kathleen McGill Gaskill that determined that the "boy" and "monkey" comments were insufficient to support a claim of racial harassment under the Township's civil rights policy.  In his suit, Sharp calls Gaskill's report "wholly contrived," "founded upon specious analysis" and intended to exculpate Defendants.

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