On Wednesday, Schuylkill County Commissioners will once again try to fire 2 Courthouse employees in a move they don’t want you to believe is retaliation for their part in a massive federal sexual harassment lawsuit against several County officials.
Instead, the Commissioners – if they succeed in voting for the terminations – will try to say that long-time Tax Claims office employees Angela Toomey and Denise McGinley-Gerchak participated in a wide-ranging snooping campaign against thousands of people using the LexisNexis software at their disposal.
According to the Agenda for the March 9 Commissioners meeting, the two women are accused of conducting 9,146 “unauthorized searches” on LexisNexis. It’s been previously reported that Toomey and Gerchak are among the 4 women who accuse Commissioner George Halcovage of sexual misconduct on the job and other Courthouse officials for their complicity in those actions.
In addition to the terminations, the Commissioners will also weigh spending between $63,843.11-$277,894.41 to pay for 2 years of Experian credit monitoring services for all 9,146 people mixed up in these alleged “unauthorized searches”.
2 Jane Doe Plaintiffs Could Be Fired on Snoop Allegations
It’s been 123 days since the Schuylkill County Commissioners last tried to fire Toomey and Gerchak. That, obviously, did not go according to plan. The idea was tabled pending an outside investigation.
They wanted to terminate the employees based on the same allegations, that they did unauthorized searches on LexisNexis using their work computers and the Courthouse’s access to that premium software.
Toomey and Gerchak have been suspended from their jobs since a little before the Commissioners tried to fire them the first time.
Now, apparently, the investigation conducted by a law firm hired by the same people who want to fire the women, is over. And we’re assuming the result of the investigation recommends terminating these employees and providing for credit monitoring.
The problem with firing the women, however, still exists.
Back in November, Halcovage abstained from voting to even hire the firm of Eckert, Seamans, Cherin, and Mellott LLC to conduct the so-called independent investigation. He said at the time that “on the advice of counsel” he’d not vote. That’s unlikely to have changed given the allegations he’s facing not only with the lawsuit but an ongoing impeachment investigation in the state House of Representatives.
That same conflict of interest seemingly would apply to non-voting officials like HR Director Heidi Zula and County Administrator Gary Bender. They’re both named in the lawsuit as well. And it’s Bender that originally recommended suspending the employees.
Previously, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined the actions of Courthouse officials against the Jane Doe plaintiffs were acts of retaliation. The Commissioners have rejected that determination.