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Judge Approves DOJ-Schuylkill County Settlement Deal

Deal ends DOJ lawsuit against the Courthouse.

The federal judge presiding over the sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Schuylkill County government has approved a settlement deal struck between the Courthouse and the US Dept. of Justice.

On Monday, US District Magistrate Martin Carlson signed an order approving the settlement deal between the federal and local governments.

The deal only concerns the DOJ’s involvement in the lawsuit. DOJ joined the lawsuit against the County because it believed the Courthouse was guilty of violating the Title VII rights of 4 Jane Doe plaintiffs who filed the initial lawsuit.

Back in 2021, 4 Jane Doe plaintiffs who worked as County employees in the Courthouse filed a federal lawsuit against Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage, other Courthouse officials, and the government, as a whole.

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They accuse Halcovage of sexual harassment and a hierarchy of County officials for being complicit with it by failing to act on their complaints. The Jane Doe plaintiffs further allege they’ve been subject to retaliation since filing the lawsuit.

DOJ got involved in the case after the initial filing and accused the County of violating the employees’ civil rights. They joined following an EEOC determination that the Courthouse actions against the employees in question was retaliation for their lawsuit.

The settlement agreed to by Carlson on Monday ends the DOJ’s litigation against the County but puts into action a remediation plan the Courthouse must follow for at least the next year.

That settlement does not end the initial lawsuit filed by the Jane Doe plaintiffs. We recently learned that the plaintiffs have turned down an $850,000 settlement offer from the County to drop their lawsuit.

While that litigation continues, the County must now implement a plan it agreed to in the settlement with the DOJ.

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That includes hiring a consultant who is charged with drafting new policies and training against sexual harassment. This consultant will also draft workplace policies that spell out the rights and procedures of employees to file similar complaints in the future.

You can read more details on the settlement here.

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