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An Asian-Trinidadian employee of the Union County Prosecutor’s Office is suing over her immediate supervisor’s alleged remarks about her unusual ethnic background. In her complaint, filed June 16 in Union County Superior Court, Denise Ogle makes general allegations against her African-American supervisor, Elaine O’Neal, head of the Victim/Witness Unit where Ogle is a counselor. Ogle’s attorney, David Kaplan, won’t be more specific, saying only that O’Neal made countless derogatory comments about Ogle for more than a year and that due to the embarrassment, Ogle sought therapy and missed some days at work. Kaplan adds that nothing was done to stop the name-calling despite Ogle’s grievances to O’Neal’s supervisor, Executive Assistant Prosecutor Robert O’Leary. “My client, along the way, advised [O'Leary], but no action was taken,” says Kaplan, a partner with the Frank Tobias law office in Perth Amboy. O’Neal was unavailable last week because she was out on vacation. Representing the prosecutor’s office, Kathryn Hatfield, a partner with Newark’s DeMaria, Ellis & Bauch, says that there is no basis for the discrimination charge. “This is simply a personality conflict,” Hatfield says, explaining that Ogle and O’Neal did not appear to get along well. Whatever differences there were between the two women had nothing to do with race or ethnicity, Hatfield says, otherwise O’Neal probably would not have been so willing to hire her in 1993. “Mrs. O’Neal highly recommended that she [Ogle] be hired when she interviewed her,” Hatfield says. “We have not found any kind of evidence that she has been the victim of any discrimination.” Ogle filed a complaint, alleging discrimination, with the federal Equal Employment Opportunities Commission in March, and the parties were scheduled to meet with a mediator. “The day the mediation came, we got a fax that morning … that she was not able to attend the mediation,” recalls Hatfield. “The mediation never took place.” Kaplan says that Ogle withdrew her EEOC complaint.

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