City pays former lifeguard Yust $75,000 in settlement

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OCEAN CITY — The city of Ocean City and former lifeguard Edwin Yust recently settled a civil age discrimination lawsuit against the city, Joseph Foglio, former Ocean City fire chief; Charles Bowman, deputy fire chief, and Thomas Mullineaux, Ocean City Beach Patrol director of operations.

Under the agreement, signed Dec. 21, 2012, the city agreed to pay Yust $75,000. As a caveat of the settlement of the Superior Court lawsuit, a separate but related New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission matter must be dismissed.

The settlement agreement was obtained through an Open Public Records Act request.

According to the lawsuit filed May 19, 2010, also a public document, Yust, 68 at the time of filing the suit, had been a member of the beach patrol in Ocean City from 1957 to 2008. Typically, Yust worked from Memorial Day to Labor Day. In 2008, Yust and two other members of the beach patrol older than 60 were ordered to start work a month after the younger members of the patrol. As a result, both Yust’s salary and pension benefit were reduced for the season. Yust alleged that the delayed start was a means of forcing him to retired.

Also in 2008, when a senior lieutenant position became vacant, Yust applied, but was passed over for the job.

In September 2008, Yust filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging age discrimination. In March 2009, the beach patrol amended its annual physical re-qualifying standards for guards in administrative positions, like Yust.

“The decision to abandon the tiered standards (for re-qualifying physicals) was a deliberate gambit undertaken to force Yust and other senior guards off the beach patrol because of their age, and was further undertaken in retaliation for Yust’s having filed an age discrimination complaint with the EEOC,” the civil suit states.

In the case, Yust was seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages and costs, fees and other appropriate relief.

Ocean City was represented by attorney Thomas Smith in the Public Employment Relations Commission matter and Joseph M. Scott in the civil matter. Frank Corrado of Barry, Corrado, Grassi and Gibson of Wildwood represented Yust.

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