Saturday, July 12, 2014

County settles lawsuit against prison

Woman who claimed she was unjustly passed over for a job had sought $100,000, will get $18,000.

May 11. 2013 12:06AM

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WILKES-BARRE – Luzerne County has settled a federal civil lawsuit filed by a Forty Fort woman in which she alleged she was passed over for a position as a corrections counselor in favor of a male prison employee who was less qualified.

At Luzerne County Council’s meeting this week, council members approved an $18,000 settlement in the case, recommended during an executive session meeting.

The suit, filed last year by Sarah Kosek, says Kosek applied for the position in July 2009 but the job was given to Robert Hetro. Kosek filed a grievance and was later appointed to the post and given back pay and benefits.

The suit originally requested more than $100,000.

Kosek’s attorney, Kimberly Borland, said Friday he could not comment on the settlement.

Luzerne County Chief Solicitor C. David Pedri said during the council meeting that council members were prohibited from commenting on the settlement.

Attorneys for the county had sought to dismiss the suit, arguing the prison had legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for choosing Hetro. The county argued Kosek had not suffered any adverse actions because she eventually prevailed in getting the position.

Hetro, the county said, was selected for the position due to his educational qualifications, experience and interview.

Attorneys for the county argued Kosek had no prior experience with any of the job duties required for a corrections counselor, other than counseling inmates on issues “related to institutional, vocational or community adjustment.”

Kosek, the county said, had previous problems regarding her efficiency while performing her job and seemed “easily frustrated when she had to deal with offenders.”

In December, U.S. District Judge Richard P. Conaboy ruled the suit would not be dismissed after a request by the county to throw out the suit.

Kosek claimed in her suit that she had more seniority than Hetro, she was better qualified and she had “superior educational qualifications.”

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