A former custodian at a middle school in New Jersey has filed a second lawsuit against the school district alleging emotional distress, workplace harassment and defamation of character after he says he was fired for mistakenly taking a gift-wrapped box of candy.
The custodian, Peter Marro, alleges in the lawsuit filed in Hunterdon County Superior Court in December against Readington Township Public Schools that he was fired in December 2017 over a “misunderstanding.” His first filing was dismissed in April because he missed the deadline to file a Tort claim, according to court records.
Marro, who is representing himself, said he thought wrapped boxes of Christmas candy he saw in the maintenance room at Readington Middle School on Dec. 19, 2017, were “a year-end thank you” to the crew from the staff.
“I chose one and put it in my car,” he said in the lawsuit. “I was happy to be thought of by the staff.”
Marro said about 20 minutes later, while he was working in the cafeteria, he was called into the main office for a meeting with the principal, vice principal, maintenance supervisor and two police officers, according to the lawsuit. He said they asked him if he took one of the gifts and he told them, “Yes.”
They then said he intentionally stole the box of Christmas candy worth $20, he claimed in the lawsuit.
Marro said he told them it was a mistake, but they did not believe him and he was informed that he was caught on camera putting the gift in his car. He said he told the group he had keys to every area of the school and had never stolen anything before.
“I stated that while doing my job as custodian for the school, I had found laptops, jewelry, cellphones and other items of value and promptly brought them to the office,” he stated in the lawsuit. He said he also told the group he would not risk his job over a box of candy. Marro was employed with a salary of $35,220, according to state records.
The vice principal then told Marro he was fired and demanded he turn over his badge and keys, according to the lawsuit.