NJ Transit employee abuse of FMLA led to canceled trains, report says
TRENTON — Over 1,500 NJ Transit employees were off the job under the Family Medical Leave Act, leading to increased overtime costs and canceled trains, according to an internal investigation.
NJ.com reported that the investigation concluded employees would call out just before they were scheduled to work, or their shifts had already started, to use their FMLA time. The shifts would be covered by workers already on the job or would go unfilled, leading to cancelled or delayed trains and buses.
The lack of staff also delayed signal and mechanical repairs.
The U.S. Department of Labor is investigating the results of the audit, according to the report.
The NJ.com report also said a memo to NJ Transit Executive Director Steve Santoro, from former chief compliance officer Todd Barretta, warned that the abuse was part of the "poor corporate culture" at NJ Transit.
NJ Transit spokeswoman Lisa Torbic said in an email that the agency was working with the Dept. of Labor in a review of FMLA policy.
Barretta testified last Friday before a state Senate and Assembly committee looking at NJ Transit's operations that the agency was "one big runaway train."
"I witnessed more occurrences of agency-wide mismanagement fueled by ignorance, arrogance, hypocrisy, incompetence, patronage, cover-up and corruption than one can reasonably expect to experience throughout an entire career," Barretta told the committee.
Santoro said Barretta had been fired after just five months because of abuse of an agency car he was using, and failure to turn in a laptop computer.
Gov. Chris Christie called Barretta's testimony "false and retaliatory," saying it was "urged on by political hacks like John McKeon, who can't find any scandal at NJ Transit, and so they want to try to manufacture one."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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