NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CN) – A manager whose outburst at his TV set was accidentally recorded by a co-worker’s voicemail says Verizon fired him for his comments, which included his beliefs on politics and health care.
Richard D’Arpe, a manager for Verizon for 15 years, says he was at home and off duty when he made a work-related call to Christian Flete, a technician. He hung up and put the phone “somewhere in the vicinity of his pants pocket.” It was July 7, 2010.
While watching a news documentary, D’Arpe says, he became upset and “began to yell at his television regarding politics, health care and his beliefs. These comments were not directed at anyone.”
D’Arpe did not realize that his phone had accidentally redialed Flete, whose voicemail caught D’Arpe’s rant. D’Arpe says he “was completely unaware of the entire incident at this point in time.”
But Flete, who is not a party to the complaint, filed an incident report with D’Arpe’s manager about the message, D’Arpe says. He adds that Flete forwarded the message to an undisclosed number of colleagues, who in turn continued forwarding the message to others.
D’Arpe was confronted by his manager and an Equal Employment Opportunity agent the next day and was suspended. D’Arpe says he refused to attend a meeting to discuss his employment status: “As Mr. D’Arpe was well aware that a number of other employees received the voicemail, he feared for his own safety and decided not to attend this meeting.”
He was fired on July 14, “for violation of the company code of conduct.”
D’Arpe says that any violation of that code did not occur at work, nor was it directed at any Verizon employee. It “merely represented comments made in the privacy of his own home and outside of the workplace.”
He seeks punitive damages for wrongful firing, negligence, defamation, and privacy invasion, and documents, including a copy of the voicemail recording.
He is represented in Middlesex County Court by Evan Goldman with Schiffman Abraham Kaufman & Ritter of Hackensack.