A current senior sanitation worker has filed a civil lawsuit against the Town of Hempstead’s Sanitary District No. 7 in Oceanside, alleging that he was the victim of political retaliation for his public support of an incoming sanitation board commissioner in 2015.
Worker Richard Zappa Jr., 51, of North Bellmore, who filed the original complaint on Jan. 1, 2017, claims that he was permanently removed as a garbage truck driver and assigned loading duties despite back injuries, because he supported the candidacy of current sanitation board of commissioners Chairman John Mannone in 2015.
The suit alleges that current district Supervisor Daniel Faust, former Supervisor Michael Scarlata, former commissioners Joseph Cibellis and Jean Kramer, and current commissioners Edward Scharfberg and Thomas Lanning all acted to punish Zappa after he publically supported Mannone during his March 2015 campaign for board commissioner.
Additionally, the suit claims that by reassigning Zappa to duties that would exacerbate back, shoulder, wrist and feet injuries, the defendants discriminated against Zappa for his disability, despite him filing worker’s compensation claims against the district.
“He stood up for the people of Oceanside against those people who controlled the district, and as a direct result he was punished,” said Carle Place-based attorney Austin Graff, who is representing Zappa.
Carle Place-based attorney Brian Sokoloff, the lead attorney representing the defendants, did not return a call for comment.
This is the second lawsuit filed by an Oceanside sanitation worker against the district within the past three years. The first, in November 2015, by former workers Joseph Samoles and Dennis Rockefeller, and also represented by Graff, alleged that district officials had not done enough to follow the recommendations of a 2014 state comptroller’s audit, which asserted that the district had illegally paid former supervisor Michael Scarlata and his son Charles more than $800,000 in deferred retirement payments, and advised it do everything in its power to retrieve the funds.
That suit was dismissed on a technicality in a March decision by Westchester County Judge Lewis Lubell, in which he described the workers’ legal efforts as “laudible,” but because the district is not categorized as a county, town, village or municipal corporation as claimed in the suit, he could not allow the case to move forward.
The current suit is awaiting a decision from Eastern New York District Judge Joan Azrack on a motion to dismiss submitted by the defendants before it can enter the discovery phase, according to Graff.