Hoboken cop's lawsuit: I complained, bosses retaliated

Hoboken cop's lawsuit: I complained, bosses retaliated

December 20, 2006 JJ

HOBOKEN - A police sergeant has filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging a pattern of harassment and retaliation that started after he complained about not getting promoted.

Lawyers for Sgt. Kevin Houghton, who joined the force in 1984, filed the suit in U.S. District Court at the end of November, alleging he was repeatedly passed over for promotion to lieutenant, denied leave, and assigned to undesirable duties - such as working the evening shift in an unsafe housing office and being assigned to foot patrol.

He said the problems started in November 2002, after he complained that the Police Department was using an out-of-date promotion list - one that his name wasn't on.

Houghton had filed various complaints regarding internal procedures, according to the lawsuit. He also filed a number of health and safety complaints about conditions at the Hoboken Police Department's housing office with the U.S. Department of Labor, and nine of them were upheld, the lawsuit said. He also filed a labor grievance against the department, he said.

In return, his suit alleges, superiors filed grievances against him.

The lawyers, Resnick Nirenberg & Siegler, are requesting compensation, punitive damages and costs.

"The allegations in this case are extremely troubling in that the chief of police, who is trusted with enforcing the law, is abusing his position to retaliate against a police sergeant because he exercised his constitutionally protected rights," said Houghton's attorney, Jonathan I. Nirenberg, adding that his client had testified for another lieutenant in another retaliation lawsuit.

Joseph Sherman, corporation counsel for the City of Hoboken, said that he can't comment to the press on pending litigation.

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