MaryAnne Cosimano thought she would receive lifetime health benefits when she retired from the Union Township Police Department. She believed so because Director of Police Daniel Zieser told her she was eligible.
But shortly after retiring after 25 years as a Union Township dispatcher, police officer and detective, Cosimano learned she wasn’t entitled to the health benefits after all.
Now Cosimano is suing the township, alleging gender discrimination and retaliation. She says many similarly situated male officers received health benefits when they retired.
Zieser says he was “mistaken” about the benefits and blames the confusion on Cosimano’s decision to work for a year in the mid-1980s for the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. She soon resumed her career with the Union P.D., but the hiatus cost her a year of service toward retiree benefits eligibility.
The loss of retiree health benefits was the last straw for Cosimano. She has already had to take a $3,000 pay cut when she was assigned to desk duty following a finger injury that prevented her from performing her detective duties. She wound up filing a grievance with her local police union over the demotion.
In Cosimano’s eyes, the denial of health benefits is part of a pattern of discrimination and retaliation. She is seeking $50,000 in damages.
Note: Funny how one thing leads to another. Zieser may very well have made an innocent mistake, but it might look suspicious to a judge or jury, coming on the heels of the demotion and union grievance. At least, that is how the plaintiff’s attorney will paint it to a jury.