Terminated CUC worker sues for alleged hostile workplace


A terminated Commonwealth Utilities Corp. employee is suing the agency in federal court, saying he was subjected to a hostile work place, such as placing a cockroach on his desk and other employees calling him “gay.”

Zaji O. Zajradhara is suing CUC, executive director Allan Fletcher, and 10 unnamed co-defendants for whistleblower/wrongful termination, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In a complaint he filed without a lawyer, Zajradhara is demanding unspecified damages and court costs.

Saipan Tribune tried to obtain comments from Fletcher but he had yet to reply as of press time.

Zajradhara said that CUC initially hired him as a trades technician/operator in October 2012, but he was moved into various positions, including warehouse man, fuel handler, and troubleshooter for the Water Division.

He said that CUC terminated him on Oct. 24, 2014, on the pretext that he had been caught in possession of illegal drugs, in violation of CUC drug and alcohol policy.

Zajradhara said he became aware of various violations of public policies, laws, regulations, and policies committed by the defendants during his employment.

One was misuse of federal funds by diverting federal money out of programs it had been granted for to cover other CUC expenses, he said.

He said he complained to Fletcher and others at CUC regarding these violations but, instead, the executive director allowed a hostile work place to develop to try to force him to quit.

Zajradhara said a racially offensive poster was installed in the workplace, a cockroach was put on his desk, and employees called him “gay” and other slurs.

The plaintiff said he complained of mistreatment to Fletcher and other management officials, but the complaints were ignored.

He said when he refused to quit his job, the defendants attempted to terminate him on the pretext that he had hit a co-worker. Zajradhara said his termination failed because it was established that the allegation of assault was untrue.

He said the defendants succeeded in terminating him on Oct. 24, 2014, by accusing him of trying to sell marijuana to an off-duty police officer. He said the defendants knew the allegation lacked merit but seized upon it to justify his termination.

Zajradhara also claimed he suffers from disability as he has post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, and an injury on his right shoulder and upper back.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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