PAL officer Paul Zenak wins ‘whistleblower’ lawsuit for asbestos complaints

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey speaks
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey speaks with U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger. Credit: Charles Mostoller/Metro file photo

Officer Paul Zenak was vindicated when a Philadelphia jury found today that the city retaliated against him after he made a good faith report of wrongdoing in alerting superiors about shoddy work by a contractor assigned to clean up reported asbestos in the basement of the Wissinoming Police Athletic League (PAL) center.

“He was right. He took a significant risk in speaking up and he was punished for it,” said Zenak’s lawyer, Aaron Freiwald.

Zenak led the PAL center for three years before in late 2011, a contractor told him there was asbestos in the homework room.

When Zenak persistently asked superiors about the cleanup, he started to receive intimidating letters from superior officers.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey testified at the trial on the nature of “counseling letters” and how PAL centers are generally supervised.

The jury ordered the city to reinstate Zenak to the PAL division, pay his related medical fees, and pay his attorney’s fees.

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