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Schuylkill County News

Appalled by $380/Hour? Wait Until You See What Another Legal Consultant is Charging Schuylkill County

We should all start a business providing professional services to the Courthouse.

If you thought $380 per hour was a lot to pay for legal help, wait until you see this bill …

Schuylkill County Commissioners will vote on Wednesday whether or not to approve more legal services required by the Consent Decree they agreed to as part of their settlement with the Dept. of Justice.

The DOJ settlement relates to the Jane Doe sexual harassment lawsuit filed by 4 Courthouse employees back in 2021. It accuses Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage of sexual harassment and other high-ranking County officials of their complicity and retaliation against them.

A couple weeks ago, the Commissioners approved a contract with McNees, Wallace & Nurick, of Harrisburg, at a rate of $380 per hour. That contract was for legal services related to that DOJ settlement. That firm will provide investigation services for employee-related matters.

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At the time, the Commissioners and County officials were bragging about how proactive they were being in flushing your money down the toilet because they aren’t legally able to do the job they’d just hired an outside law firm to do.

(For reference, read: Ironic Flex: Schuylkill County Officials Brag About Being Proactive Hiring DOJ-Mandated Investigator)

Well, that contract was just the beginning. That Consent Decree required a lot more than just hiring investigators. There was a much bigger part of that agreement, like bringing someone in to basically rewrite the parts of the figurative employee handbook on sexual harassment.

And it appears that’s what the Commissioners will do on Wednesday.

Per the Agenda for their March 1 Work Session meeting, the Commissioners will consider hiring Employment Practices Group as a consultant that provides even more legal services to the County government.

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Their fee? That’ll be $450 per hour.

But that’s not all … According to the Agenda, “In addition to the hourly rate, there will be other costs and expenses” with this contract.

You can read more details about what’s included in the actual DOJ settlement with Schuylkill County here.

The Commissioners are meeting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 1 at the Courthouse in Pottsville. If you can’t make it, you can listen in either through Zoom or a voice call:

  • Phone: 301-715-8592
  • Meeting ID: 860 2495 9412
  • Passcode: 423522

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  1. WSG

    March 1, 2023 at 6:59 am

    Maybe they should find a compliant policy in another one of the other 66 county handbooks and adopt the language into Schuylkill County handbook….

    • Canary Commenter

      March 1, 2023 at 9:19 am

      Hmmm … that sounds like how one news outlet in the area gets its news.

  2. WSG

    March 1, 2023 at 9:25 am

    Maybe the commissioners should find a compliant policy in one of the other 66 PA County handbooks and adopt the language into the Schuylkill County Handbook…..?

  3. WSG

    March 1, 2023 at 9:29 am

    It puzzles me as to why the in house legal representation cannot accomplish this. If not why can’t they find small law firm talent locally to handle this type of administrative task. Spend, spend, spend Schuylkill County’s current Board of Commissioners’ magical false elixir.

    • Canary Commenter

      March 1, 2023 at 1:30 pm

      The terms spelled out in the DOJ settlement basically prevent them from doing so. They’re all implicated in this case in some way, so it’d be like when the government investigates itself. Well, it literally would be here, and that would accomplish nothing. So, we have to hire these high-priced lawyers to come up rules that are basically already laws that will probably get broken in the future.

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