Former Union City Tenant’s Advocacy attorney John Salierno filed a lawsuit against the municipality, Mayor Brian Stack and other government officials, claiming he was fired about two months after meeting with detectives from the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.
Municipal Attorney for Tenant’s Advocacy is part time position funded by the City of Union City to serve as counsel for all tenants who reside in the municipality.
According to a report by John Heinis published by Hudson County View, the 26-page lawsuit filed in Hudson County Superior Court accuses Union City of violating the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act, wrongful discharge, emotional distress, defamation and a hostile work environment.
Salierno also claims protected status as a whistleblower because he informed authorities that he was regularly referred to tenants in Stack’s state Senate district but outside of Union City, with the expectation that he would still represent them free of charge.
Salierno, who is representing himself in the case, is seeking compensatory, consequential, punitive, general, and special damages, as well as attorney’s fees, accrued pre-judgment interests, and costs.
Salierno claims that he was told to consult with Stack before running for the Jersey City Ward D council seat, for which he became a candidate in 2021. He was also an independent candidate for Congress in 2022, when political bosses installed the son of Senator Robert Menendez in the Hudson County-based seat in the House of Representatives vacated by Rep. Albio Sires.
Salierno says he met with two detectives from the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability and sent them “over two hundred documents” showing multiple requests for him to represent clients from outside Union City.
Salierno claims in the lawsuit that state officials did not appear to follow up on his allegations.
Salierno was terminated on March 18th, 2022.
Stack, who has sought to cultivate an image as a tenants rights advocate, established the Tenant Advocacy Department with a mission to prevent homelessness, to protect tenants from unfair eviction or rent gouging, and to provide tenants free legal representation in matters relating to their tenancy.
Salierno claims that Stack uses the agency to promote his political aspirations, funnel money to his campaign in the form of donations, and otherwise abuse the resources of city taxpayers.
Stack is among the few New Jersey politicians who simultaneously serves in two elected offices, a practice that was made illegal under legislation that exempted the few individuals who were double-dipping at the time Gov. Jon Corzine enacted the ban.
Stack is in the state Senate, where has represented the 33rd Legislative District since 2008, and he holds office as the Mayor of Union City, New Jersey since 2000.