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Cheektowaga Reaches Settlement in Harassment Case Against Judge, Town

A federal lawsuit filed against the town of Cheektowaga and a town judge was settled this week. Part of the settlement requires that the town hold harassment and retaliation training for councilmembers and department heads. The suit, filed in June by former town court chief clerk Stephanie Lewandowski, claimed that town judge Paul Piotrowski harassed her after she brought a complaint to the town’s HR department saying that Piotrowski had sexually harassed a clerk who worked for her. Along with the harassment charges, Lewandowski also charged that the town of Cheektowaga retaliated against her by eliminating her job after the complaint was made.

WGRZ reached out to noted defense attorney Paul Cambria for his legal analysis of the settlement. The full story can be found on the WGRZ website.

Town and judge deny charges

Lewandowski’s lawsuit says that “from the time Piotrowski took the bench in 2012 until (Lewandowski) lost her job in January of 2014, Judge Piotrowski made it a practice to physically and verbally bully and intimidate her.” WGRZ reports that the town and the judge both denied the charges against them, but the town has agreed to settle the case. The settlement includes paying Lewandowski $65,000, as well as training town department heads and councilmembers on discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. According to WGRZ, neither the town nor the judge has admitted any wrongdoing.

Settlement partially business decision

WGRZ’s Scott Brown asked Mr. Cambria if the settlement was largely a business decision for the town. “I think it is,” Mr. Cambria responded. “If you're sued by someone there comes a point in time where you say all right, I didn't do anything wrong, but am I better off paying this amount of money to have it go away, rather than spending all of this other money on lawyers and perhaps losing and spending more money on a recovery (judgment)? So you always have that business decision plateau in a civil case."

The town and Lewandowski’s attorney both declined to comment to WGRZ about the case.

About Paul Cambria

The chair of Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals Practice Area, Mr. Cambria advises clients on criminal trials, criminal appeals, constitutional and First Amendment law, zoning and land use, antitrust, and professional licensing defense. He divides his time between the firm's offices in Buffalo and Los Angeles.

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