Deborah Gross-Quatrone’s filed a disability discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against the New Jersey court system in August.
A former New Jersey lawyer who was suspended for two months after an ethics complaint claimed she secretly recorded meetings and had a secretary do her son’s homework, is suing the state for disability discrimination and retaliation.
Deborah Gross-Quatrone’s August suit names Judge Glenn Grant – acting Administrative Director of the New Jersey Courts – and more than a dozen other defendants from the state.
The disability suit follows an earlier suit that Gross-Quatrone filed claiming that she experienced a hostile work environment while working in the Bergen County court system, according to court filings obtained by Law.com.
Gross-Quatrone was appointed as a judge to the Superior Court for the State of New Jersey in March 2015, where she was first assigned to Passaic County. The suit states that she was ‘well received’ by other judges.
It wasn’t until she was reassigned to Bergen County just four months later in July that she was ‘immediately abused and harassed’ by Judge Bonnie Mizdol, assignment judge for the county, the lawsuit states.
‘This improper and unprofessional conduct included bullying, excessive cursing, harassing, and disparaging treatment for no reason by the Assignment Judge,’ the lawsuit contends, claiming the mistreatment happened for six months and resulted in Gross-Quatrone getting ‘ongoing, spontaneous nose bleeds.’
The suit names Judge Glenn Grant – acting Administrative Director of the New Jersey Courts – and more than a dozen other defendants from the state
The judge attempted to have a witness present for her meetings with Mizdol but was denied the opportunity, the lawsuit states, prompting her to start secretly recording the meetings.
Her recording of the meetings, along with a series of other allegations, resulted in a 2017 ethics complaint against Gross-Quatrone that ultimately led to her being suspended for two months.
She claims she was ‘immediately abused and harassed’ by Judge Bonnie Mizdol when assigned to Bergen County. A complaint against the former judge said that she recorded meetings between her and Mizdol
The complaint states that Gross-Quatrone made her law clerk, Maria DeLeon, start working roughly three weeks before the official August 2015 start date that was given in a May memo by Judge Grant. DeLeon was not paid for her work during that time until the Judiciary became involved.
The meetings in which Gross-Quatrone first began recording pertained to the work done by the law clerk, with the former judge telling Judge Mizdol that she had not received Grant’s memo.
A follow up meeting with Mizdol and Judges Peter Melchionne, Diana Moskal and Laura Simoldoni also resulted in Gross-Quatrone recording that meeting after she tried to have DeLeon brought in as a witness but was denied.
When asked repeatedly if she was using a recording device, Gross-Quatrone is said to have denied using one on numerous occasions. The device was confiscated and a copy of the recording was made before it was given back to the judge.
Lastly, the complaint states that DeLeon was forced to perform various ‘personal and non-judiciary’ work on behalf of Gross-Quatrone and under her direction.
Gross-Quatrone was said to have ‘had DeLeon do her child’s homework; check jewelry orders, rental car reservations and vacation itineraries; send letters concerning Louis Vuitton bags; inquire about Macy’s store credit; and send out bills to clients from her prior private law practice,’ the complaint reads.
Also included in those meetings were Judges Peter Melchionne, (left) Diana Moskal and Laura Simoldoni (right)
A September 9, 2015, email was included in the complaint, requiring that DeLeon do her high school senior son’s homework. DeLeon also had to order a book for the student.
Taking two years, the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct determined in 2019 that Gross-Quatrone have an unpaid suspension for two months. While she awaited the results of the complaint, Gross-Quatrone served Essex County. She returned to her post there after the suspension.
Gross-Quatrone filed her own suit against Mizdol and the other judges, citing a hostile work environment and gender discrimination. The suit was ultimately dismissed in 2019 and Gross-Quatrone attempted to appeal, although that too was rejected.
The August suit, Gross-Quatrone claims that she recorded the meetings ‘not to be used offensively; but for self-protection and as a defense to the mistreatment being administered by Judge Mizdol.’
An email exchange between Gross-Quatrone and her law clerk, Maria DeLeon. DeLeon had to do the former judge’s son homework, according to a complaint against Gross-Quatrone
She finally got to speak with Judge Grant about Mizdol in early 2016, but claims that when she brought up the bullying, Grant reportedly said: ‘That’s how the Governor [Chris Christie] speaks to people, get over it!”
Gross-Quatrone claims in the suit that was treated differently than others when trying to secure a disability pension, which resulted in discrimination based on her disability.
In the suit, the former judge points to a series of medical evaluations she had to undergo as a result of the deteriorating health she experienced while working in the courts. This included an MRI conducted by a neurosurgeon who said that Gross-Quatrone was ‘no longer capable of making judicial decisions,’ the lawsuit claims.
Gross-Quatrone claims that she ‘has been alienated from ‘has been alienated from most of the legal community. Most judicial relationships plaintiff enjoyed since becoming a Superior Court judge have been severed causing her to feel abandoned and deserted; causing depression, isolation and insecurity.’
The former lawyer is seeking a trial for the latest suit. She is also seeking ‘compensatory and punitive damages, together with reasonable attorney’s fees, costs of suit and such further relief as the Court may deem just and equitable.’