School social worker says he was discriminated against because he is gay

Joseph Longo III
Joseph Longo III
Lawsuit filed in Superior Court under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination

A gay New Jersey social worker says his coworkers discriminated against him. Quinton, NJ resident Joseph H. Longo III  says in a lawsuit this happened on a daily basis over his desire to be a foster parent. He is suing the district, and several district employees, in Salem County, NJ. He was told, “You don’t need foster kids. You need to find a woman and have kids with a woman.” At another time he was told, “You don’t need kids. Just get another pet,” according to the suit.

Longo claims in the February 9, 2018 court filing that he was denied a family personal day to take the child to the doctor. The suit was filed in Superior Court under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. In the lawsuit, he claims he was told he didn’t deserve it. He was told he was not a “real parent,”by a coworker. Once, he was told he needed to “choose between being a foster parent and his career.” He also said he was told he didn’t have the same rights as a natural or adoptive parent. A coworker said if he even submitted the request he would be “under a microscope,” according to the lawsuit.

Longos former coworkers commented to Longo about a Salem City School District high school LGBT club once. One of them said to him, “I can’t believe they have this club.”

Longo worked for the school district since 2000. He was employed as a social worker affiliated with the Child Study Team. A coworker told him he “did not know what he was doing,” because he is single. He said he was told to return his foster children to the state Department of Children and Families because he “did not need this.”

“I hope you learned your lesson, you don’t need any children.”

Longo said that after two foster children left his care in May 2017, the school psychologist said, “I hope you learned your lesson, you don’t need any children.”

The suit alleges a district employee had at one time asked “invasive and harassing questions.” The lawsuit charges “harassment based upon sexual orientation, familial, status and discrimination and discrimination based upon gender stereotype.”

The Salem City School District attorneys say the court should dismiss Longo’s “frivolous, unreasonable, groundless” lawsuit. They are asking the court to require Longo to pay all court costs plus attorney fees incurred by the school district.

Joseph H Longo III is represented by Kevin M. Costello from his Mount Laurel, NJ office. They are requesting the district reinstate Longo and pay all lost wages. They are also asking for additional compensatory damages and that the school district pays all court costs plus attorney fees incurred.

A copy of the lawsuit is available online.