Anthony G. Attrino, NJ.com, September 30, 2022
A Muslim police chief in Morris County intends to sue the township where he works, claiming elected officials and municipal employees allegedly made insensitive jokes about his race and religion, creating a hostile work environment.
Ahmed Naga, the first Muslim chief of the Long Hill Township Police Department, says he’s endured ongoing and repeated acts of harassment, discrimination, heightened scrutiny and a hostile work environment, according to a notice of tort claim his attorney filed with the township.
Township Attorney Jack Pidgeon did not immediately respond to a request to comment on the allegations.
The tort notice states Deputy Mayor Guy Piserchia – who was mayor at the time – asked Naga at a Sept. 11, 2021, memorial service if he was “a member of the Taliban.”
On Dec. 7, 2021, Councilman Victor Verlezza allegedly made a crude and racist remark about Muslims during a phone call with Naga, the tort notice states.
In an April 27, 2021, meeting in the chief’s office with two members of the committee and an assistant, another racist comment was allegedly made by Piserchia, the notice alleges.
“Piserchia (said) if he had known I was Muslim he wouldn’t have promoted me,” Naga said in an email Friday that was forwarded to NJ Advance Media by his attorney.
Piserchia “has also said to other township committee members that he doesn’t want to see a mosque in Long Hill,” Naga claimed in the email.
In May, Naga also allegedly overheard one councilman say to another, “The chief doesn’t understand (how) to turn the other cheek. It’s not his religion.”