Law Journal: suit claims NJ Chamber a ‘culture of intoxication’

A sexual harassment lawsuit by former New Jersey Chamber of Commerce executive Carol Gabel against the business advocacy and lobbying group complains about a “culture of intoxication.”

According to a story in the New Jersey Law Journal, Gabel said she “was sexually harassed on the job and endured retaliation and dismissal after complaining about it.” The suit contains Gabel’s recounting of an alleged incident, too, involving former Acting Gov. Donald DiFrancesco.

From the Law Journal…

“In her complaint, Gabel, who started as an intern in 1999, describes an ‘old boys’ club’ at the chamber, in which some male department heads regularly left work for long lunches and golf outings and in which heavy drinking and other inappropriate behavior was common and spilled into the workplace.

“The men spent hours eating and drinking at Marsilio’s Restaurant in Trenton during and after work, Gabel says, adding that she initially was included but then learned that the men spent much of their time describing women in unseemly and derogatory terms.

“She also claims her superiors did not take seriously her complaints of harassment by a New Jersey governor. Though he was not named in the complaint, the events allegedly occurred in 2001, when Donald DiFrancesco held the office.

“The suit alleges that when Gabel accompanied her supervisor James Leonard to a chamber dinner, the governor, ogling her bust, said ‘nice beads,’ which she took to mean “nice breasts.” Leonard allegedly did not admonish the former governor about the remarks.

“Not long after that, Gabel says, she was delivering papers to the Statehouse when she encountered the governor, who allegedly grabbed her coat collar and asked when they were having dinner. Gabe says she declined, returned to the office and reported the episode to a colleague, who told Leonard.

“Gabel alleges that Leonard, instead of addressing her concerns, teased her repeatedly about the incident, and once, Gabel found pictures of the governor festooning her office, she says.

“DiFrancesco, now of DiFrancesco, Bateman, Coley, Yospin, Kunzman, Davis, Lehrer & Flaum in Warren, denies the incidents occurred. He says he does not recall meeting Gabel at a chamber dinner or encountering her at the Statehouse, where he was usually escorted by state troopers.”

Law Journal: suit claims NJ Chamber a ‘culture of intoxication’