John James Jr., a long term employee of the Cumberland County Public Works Department, has claimed that his former boss sexually harassed him and has filed a lawsuit claiming unspecified amount of compensation.

Harassment began in 2010

Donald Olbrich was hired as the director of the department and as James’s supervisor in 2009. John James Jr, who was employed with the PWD for 13 years, said that the harassment started a year after that. In 2010, James and two others were working with sand barrels and one of them was sent to get grease to help open the lids on the barrels. Olbrich, the lawsuit says, said that he wanted to use that grease on James’s bottom. According to the lawsuit, the harassment continued for months.


On another occasion in 2011, James felt uncomfortable when he noticed that Olbrich was standing behind him staring at his butt, and asked him to back off. However, in another incident in that year, Olbrich harassed James again by comparing the size of his penis to a hydraulic hose that James was holding, the 11 page document says.

James complained to the union representative, but there was no follow up action on his complaint, he said. A few months after James complained, he was transferred to a facility in Port Norris from Bridgeton. James had to spend more money for the additional commute, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit alleges that due to the actions of Olbrich, not only was James’s mental and physical health affected, but he also suffered financially in terms of wages, seniority, pension, and sick day losses.

Olbrich gay says attorney

The sexual harassment attorney for James said that it was a shame that a long term employee was denied promotion that he deserved and treated in an unfair manner for having complained about the inappropriate conduct of Olbrich. The document says that according to the information available, Olbrich was gay and had a homosexual orientation, while the plaintiff was a heterosexual male. Olbrich said that he would not comment on the lawsuit until he had spoken to his sexual harassment attorney but said that he was in a heterosexual marriage.

After James wrote to the Chairman of the public works department, Samuel Fiocchi, an investigation was ordered by the county director of personnel. Subsequently, James was sent back to Bridgeton.

Passed up twice for promotion

In the lawsuit, James states that he had applied in 2012 for a job opening since he was the second most eligible employee as a heavy equipment operator. However, Olbrich announced that he had already selected two of the employees, which did not include James. Olbrich did not announce or post the test scores as per regulations.  James said that his scores in the test were low because Olbrich took into account sick leave as well which was an illegal criterion.

Many people are wondering how Olbrich became a manager?

In March of 2014 James was passed over for another job, when Olbrich drove up to personally to inform him that he would not receive this job, according to the lawsuit. Olbrich seems to have issues on many levels.