Jersey City MUA photo
JCMUA

In a case involving an alleged white supremacist, a dead possum, an un-flushed toilet, a Rolling Stones song and claims of racial and pay discrimination, a husband and wife are suing the Jersey City Municipal Utilities Authority, its executive director, and a co-worker.

The lawsuit, brought in Bergen County Superior Court, revolves around Charles Schaadt, a JCMUA employee whom plaintiff Timothy Carter says “openly espoused white supremacist beliefs in the JCMUA workplace” and what Carter alleges were the JCMUA’s failures to address his complaints about Schaadt.

Timothy Carter is Black.

Schaadt, the JCMUA and its Executive Director, Jose Cunha, who was also named in the lawsuit, have denied Carter’s charges and those of his wife, Lori, who claims that she was penalized by the agency after her husband complained about Schaadt’s conduct.

In 2017, Carter was hired as a construction supervisor with the JCMUA, responsible for overseeing the repair of collapsed sewers, catch basins, and Jersey City roadways.

“Mr. Schaadt was so brazen in the JCMUA workplace concerning his white supremacist ideology that he screwed a photo of Donnie Russell Rowe under plastic in the window of the door between the West Side Plant’s garage and its cafeteria.”

In 2017, Rowe and a fellow inmate named Ricky Dubose made national news when they murdered two Georgia corrections officers while attempting a prison escape. Dubose belonged to a white supremacist gang called Ghost Face Gangsters.

“Visible in the window of the door between the West Side Plant’s garage and its cafeteria were Donnie Russell Rowe’s white supremacist tattoos including…a Nazi War Eagle tattoo (and) a tattoo of the Schutzstaffel Armanen rune (commonly referred to as the ‘S.S. lightning bolt’).”

Carter says he asked Schaadt to remove the items from the window but Schaadt refused. Another employee allegedly complained to a higher up who “took no remedial action.”

Despite the complaints, according to Carter, Schaadt was promoted, and then he targeted Carter, the only JCMUA Supervisor of color, for harassment.

That wasn’t the end of it. Carter alleges that Schaadt began parking his own car in Carter’s parking space. JCMUA Executive Director Jose Cunha told Schaadt to stop after Carter complained, Carter says.

Then came the possum. According to Carter, in the presence of two witnesses, “Schaadt, with his bare hands, picked up a dead possum and put it inside” Carter’s JCMUA vehicle. “Schaadt then moved the dead possum from inside…to outside…so its bloody dead body rested on the vehicle’s side view mirror.”

Carter says that, despite his attempts to clean the vehicle, he couldn’t get rid of the stench of the dead animal.

What followed was a false report, allegedly filed by Schaadt against Carter, claiming that Carter had damaged a work vehicle and an argument over car keys in which Schaadt “yelled in an intimidating and threatening manner, ‘You picked the right white boy to mess with. This white boy isn’t afraid of you.’”

And then there’s the un-flushed toilet. One day, Carter went to use a small bathroom in one of the offices. Seeing that the light was on, Carter asked if anyone was inside. Schaadt, he says, shouted out “Yeah, I’m in here.” Carter “entered the restroom shortly after Mr. Schaadt exited, lifted the toilet seat, and found Mr. Schaadt left his feces in the toilet.”

Carter claims that he was then forced to add to his responsibilities the work of a departed supervisor who happened to be white and who he learned was earning approximately $40 thousand more than Carter to do the same job. Race, Carter alleges, was “a motivating factor in Defendant, JCMUA’s decision” to pay him less.

Carter’s wife, Lori, an administrative assistant at the MUA, was soon in the crosshairs of upper management, according to the lawsuit. “As a result of Mr. Carter’s complaints of racial discrimination,” she wasn’t a paid for over 100 hours of overtime and was then transferred to a different department where she was no longer able to earn overtime.

After an unsuccessful attempt at mediation, Schaadt allegedly entered her office and loudly sang “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” from the song by the Rolling Stones. Carter felt mocked and embarrassed.

The JCMUA and Cunha are denying the substance of the Carters’ claims. There may have been a complaint about a photo, but they deny that white supremacist and Nazi symbols were visible. There may have been a tiff over a parking space, but spaces weren’t assigned. It was Carter, they say, who initiated the verbal threats, telling Schaadt in effect, “I’m not playing games here.”

As to the bathroom incident, the JCMUA and Cunha explain that management “did not perceive someone’s bathroom behavior as requiring ‘remedial action.’”

As to the possum, well, they have questions. “The photo conveniently has the date obscured,” writes their attorney.

Finally, as to Lori Carter, the JCMUA says she’s got her math wrong. No overtime pay is owed. She wasn’t penalized for her husband’s complaints about Schaadt.

Schaadt, too, denies virtually all of the Carters’ charges against him. Any actions he took with respect to Timothy Carter “were undertaken in good faith and for legitimate business reasons unrelated to Plaintiff’s race” and were justified “by business necessity.”

Moreover, Schaadt says he does “not have a specific recollection of singing” the Rolling Stones song, and denies “that he was singing anything loudly.”

Calls to the attorneys for the JCMUA and Schaadt were not returned. The attorney for the plaintiffs declined to comment for this article.

Aaron Morrill

Aaron is a writer, musician and lawyer. Aaron attended Berklee College of Music and the State University of New York at Purchase. Aaron served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador. He received a J.D....