Schuylkill County government officials say they reject the recent findings by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which accuse it of violating the Civil Rights Act related to sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation in the workplace.
On Wednesday, Commissioner Boots Hetherington read a prepared statement at the end of the Commissioners meeting. Until then, the County hasn’t said a word about the findings from the EEOC, which responded to a complaint from one of the four Jane Doe plaintiffs involved in a federal lawsuit against several Schuylkill County government officials, including Commissioner George Halcovage.
The EEOC determined that those 4 women, at least, were subject to sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, intimidation, and ongoing retaliation in their jobs at the Courthouse. In a recent determination, the EEOC said the restructuring of the County’s tax offices at the Courthouse were an act of retaliation against two of the women involved in that federal civil lawsuit.
The County disagrees, apparently.
Boots said, “The County is aware of the recent Determination letters issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which have been released to the public. The County has consistently denied the allegations of the Complainants and strongly disagrees with those findings.”
Now, that’s odd in some respect. Because what the EEOC found, in part, is what a 2020 internal investigation of allegations against Halcovage found, too. That investigation determined that Halcovage did, indeed, subject women to sexual harassment in the workplace.
The EEOC said that, in part, in its determinations, so to say the County denies the allegations isn’t wholly true. Presumably what the County means is that it disagrees with the tax office retaliation determination.
Boots said in his statement, “It is important to note that in the investigation, the EEOC did NOT interview anyone in the Commissioners office, Human Resources, or Solicitors office in making its determinations.”
The County says it’s not going to do anything about the EEOC determinations. It definitely doesn’t sound like conciliation, which the EEOC recommended, is on the table at this point.
Going to the EEOC with their complaints is one step the Jane Does were supposed to do before filing their lawsuit against Halcovage and other officials at the Courthouse, namely Administrator Gary Bender and Solicitor Glenn Roth. In fact, the County tried to get the lawsuit dismissed because EEOC complaints allegedly hadn’t been reported prior to the lawsuit being filed.
Boots concluded the County’s statement by saying, “Finally, the County will continue to defend against the allegations in federal court.”
Halcovage has denied all allegations against him dating back to the original internal investigation into his alleged behavior in the workplace.
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