Lawsuit against Hi Tor Animal Shelter claims racism, discrimination

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A lawsuit was filed this week by two former employees of Hi Tor Animal Shelter, claiming that shelter board member Steven Harris made racist comments.

James Joseph claims Harris made racist comments to him in front of others when he worked there two summers ago. Former shelter manager Michael Sanducci says he overheard the comments Harris made to Joseph and wanted to do something about it.

“I tried to do the necessary follow-up by replying to the board. Nothing was done about that,” says Sanducci. “I took the staff over to the county executive's office…and repeated what had happened.”

Nine days later, Sanducci was fired. He says the board told him it was for job abandonment after going to the county executive's office.

“I think I was fired in retaliation for pushing the discrimination complaint against James,” says Sanducci.

Now, Sanducci is suing the shelter, the board and Rockland County for wrongful termination.

Joseph, who worked at Hi Tor for five years before quitting when Sanducci was fired, is suing for discrimination.

Both Joseph and Sanducci are seeking compensation in the lawsuit, but their attorney says it's not about money, it's about justice.

An attorney for the shelter says it cannot comment on employee matters or pending litigation.

The county told News 12 it will be filing a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against Rockland since no allegations of unlawful conduct were made against any of its employees.


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