An independent investigation by the firm Holland and Knight has found in favor of Lopatcong Township Municipal Clerk Margaret Dilts in her complaint against Lopatcong Township Mayor Tom McKay. Dilts made the complaint in response to comments she claimed McKay made to Chief Financial Officer Lorraine Rossetti and Tax Assessor Kathy Degan which implied that Dilts is a lesbian and in a sexual relationship with Kathy Devos, Chairperson of the Township’s Rent Leveling Board.
The speed and decisiveness of the investigation are unusual for a case in which so much depends on accounts from anonymous witnesses, but those who gave interviews described an exceptionally hostile work environment in which Dilts and MacKay were openly confrontational with each other. The report suggested that McKay and Dilts were at such constant loggerheads because of McKay’s promises to oust Dilts when he was campaigning for office.
During Dilts’s time at a professional conference in Atlantic City, the respondents called a township employee and asked the employee to find out whether Dilts and Devos were at the conference together while “laughing” and “joking.” McKay will face disciplinary measures from the Township Council, and he and others in the township’s government will be required to receive additional training on harassment and discrimination.
Though McKay said that he never called Dilts a lesbian outright, he did acknowledge calling both Dilts and Devos “man-haters.” One witness described McKay saying “Dilts likes women.”
“The report wholly substantiates my client’s claims,” said Attorney Jeff Russo, adding that his hope was for the finding to “limit the township’s liability and alleviate the serious conditions that my client is faced with in the workplace.”
“We’re expecting immediate corrective action,” Russo said of the Lopatcong Township Council’s impending decision.