Now and Then: Haynes, Robinson and Sharpe Sued Again


Last week in The Land of Lawsuits, RIOC President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes, Chief Council Gretchen Robinson and Assistant Vice President Tajuna Sharpe were sued again. The complainant is Karline Jean, a 21-year employee. Her story echoes others but is loaded with new revelations.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

First of all, there is no truth to the rumor that Roosevelt Island will be renamed “The Land of Lawsuits,” although it might be more appropriate. There are hopes, by some, that the condition will change and allow the community to get back to something closer to normal.

On Friday, the Karline Jean lawsuit joined at least four others along with ten investigations targeting RIOC. In addition, Haynes and Robinson filed their own lawsuit, accusing state executives of racial discrimination.

All the smoke does not prove any fire, but it does create turmoil. Calling it intolerable for any community doesn’t really size up the full threat.

Sued Again

Probably the biggest revelation in Karline Jean’s lawsuit (attached below) is her allegation of Haynes’s responsibility for the secret recording used in firing his predecessor, Susan Rosenthal. Long rumored but never confirmed openly under oath, it’s devastating.

There are more eye-openers.

While Jean’s firing after 21 years puzzled us, she reveals what she says crucially preceded it.

She alleges that, while working as Haynes’s executive assistant, Haynes and Sharpe asked her to assist in finding grounds for firing an employee they wanted to get rid of “for nefarious reasons.” Neither the employee nor the reasons are specified.

In any event, they tasked her with doing a timesheet audit, hoping to find that the employee was “stealing time,” according to the lawsuit. But Jean found, instead, that the unnamed employee worked above and beyond her responsibilities on full days.

When she reported that, Jean says that Haynes requested that she “alter the audit.” When she refused, she claims “her time at RIOC was then marked.”

In perspective, Jean’s lawsuit also claims that, earlier, in a meeting, Haynes said that he’d “fired hundreds of employees but never lost a claim.”

She accuses him of using that as a way of cowing any opposition.

Both the unnamed employee and Jean were later fired.

A Gradual Breakdown

In a convoluted set of events, Jean accuses Haynes, Sharpe and Robinson of coordinating in forcing her to work in a hostile environment in which she was treated differently than other employees in similar positions.

She filed an EEOC complaint over being denied a medical exemption allowing her working from home. When that was declined, she was soon fired without being given a cause, she alleges.

She also claims her dismissal came after more than two decades of positive performance and multiple promotions.


For the record, Jean was the employee who first complained publicly about Rosenthal’s alleged behavior. In the lawsuit, she also says she was responsible for notifying the state of Haynes’s alleged recording of Rosenthal, which she says he played back for fellow employees but did not voluntarily report as required by state regulations.

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