October 3, 2022

ACN Center

Area Control Network

Justice Department Moves to Intervene in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania

14 min read

The Justice Department today is seeking to join the lawsuit Doe et al. v. Schuylkill County et al., filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The plaintiffs in this case are four female employees of Schuylkill County who allege that County Commissioner George F. Halcovage Jr., sexually harassed them and that they experienced retaliation when they opposed Halcovage’s sexual harassment. The allegations in the United States’ complaint in intervention, as described in detail below, include multiple incidents of sexual advances and of coercion of sexual intercourse, and inappropriate sex-based comments occurring over many years.

“When an elected official abuses their power and position to sexually harass public servants in the workplace they can and must be held accountable,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This lawsuit sends a clear message that the Department of Justice will not tolerate sexual harassment and will vindicate the rights of survivors.”

“No one should be forced to endure sexual harassment and then have that injury compounded by suffering retaliation for complaining about that harassment in the workplace,” said U.S. Attorney John C. Gurganus for the Middle of Pennsylvania. “Our office will work diligently with the Civil Rights Division to enforce the right to be free from unlawful workplace harassment and retaliation.” 

The United States’ complaint in intervention alleges that Schuylkill County violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act when it subjected the four women to Halcovage’s sexual harassment and retaliated against them because they opposed his sexual harassment. Halcovage used his power as a County Commissioner to coerce one of the women, identified in the lawsuit as Jane Doe, to have sex with him numerous times. Halcovage sexually harassed the other three women through among other things, crude sexual comments, obscene jokes and spreading a false rumor that he had had sex with one of them. High-ranking Schuylkill County officials were aware of Halcovage’s sexual harassment, but failed to take any actions to stop it until one of the women filed a written complaint. After the County investigated the written complaint, it determined that Halcovage had violated the County’s sexual harassment policy. Despite this finding, the County took no disciplinary action against him and he continues to serve as a Schuylkill County Commissioner. The County retaliated against the four women because of their opposition to Halcovage’s sexual harassment by, among other things, moving two of them to less desirable office locations and demoting the other two. Despite a clear conflict of interest and his obvious motive to retaliate against them, Halcovage cast the decisive vote to demote the two women.

The United States’ complaint in intervention is based on charges of discrimination filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Philadelphia District Office, which investigated the charges and found reasonable cause to believe Schuylkill County violated Title VII. After unsuccessful conciliation efforts, the EEOC referred the charges to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The Justice Department’s proposed intervention in this lawsuit is part of a joint effort to enhance collaboration between the department and the EEOC in the vigorous enforcement of Title VII.

This lawsuit is also part of the Civil Rights Division’s Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Initiative. The initiative is aimed at eradicating sexual harassment in state and local government workplaces. It focuses on litigation, outreach, and development of effective remedial measures to address and prevent future sex discrimination and harassment.

This lawsuit is being handled by Trial Attorneys Allan Townsend and Amber Trzinski Fox of the Civil Rights Division’s Employment Litigation Section and by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Butler for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The full and fair enforcement of Title VII is a top priority of the Civil Rights Division’s Employment Litigation Section. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division and the Employment Litigation Section is available on its websites www.justice.gov/crt and www.justice.gov/crt/employment-litigation-section.

More from: April 1, 2022

  • Joint Statement on Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) 2021
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Overstay Tracking: A Key Component of Homeland Security and a Layered Defense
    In U.S GAO News
    Each year, millions of visitors, foreign students, and immigrants come to the United States. Foreign visitors may enter on a legal temporary basis–that is, with an authorized period of admission that expires on a specific date–either (1) with temporary visas (generally for tourism, business, or work) or, in some cases, (2) as tourists or business visitors who are allowed to enter without visas. (The latter include Canadians and qualified visitors from 27 countries who enter under the visa waiver program.) The majority of visitors who are tracked depart on time, but others overstay–and since September 11, 2001, the question has arisen as to whether overstay issues might have an impact on domestic security. In this report, we (1) describe available data on the extent of overstaying, (2) report on weaknesses in the Department of Homeland Security’s long-standing overstay tracking system, and (3) provide some observations on the impact that tracking system weaknesses and significant levels of overstaying may have on domestic security.Significant numbers of foreign visitors overstay their authorized periods of admission. Based in part on its long-standing I-94 system for tracking arrivals and departures, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimated the overstay population for January 2000 at 2.3 million. But this estimate (1) excludes an unknown number of long-term overstays from Mexico and Canada, and by definition (2) excludes short-term overstays from these and other countries. Because of unresolved weaknesses in DHS’s long-standing tracking system (e.g., noncollection of some departure forms), there is no accurate list of overstays. Tracking system weaknesses make it difficult to monitor potentially suspicious aliens who enter the country legally–and limit immigration control options. Post-September 11 operations identified thousands of overstays and other illegal immigrant workers who (despite limited background checks) had obtained critical infrastructure jobs and security badges with access to, for example, airport tarmacs and U.S. military bases. As of April 2004, federal investigators had arrested more than 1,360 illegal workers, while the majority had eluded apprehension. Together with other improvements, better information on overstays might contribute to a layered national defense that is better able to counter threats from foreign terrorists. A more comprehensive system, US-VISIT, the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology, is being phased in. The design and implementation of US-VISIT, however, face a number of challenges. It is important that this new program avoid specific weaknesses associated with the long-standing system. Checking for these weaknesses might help identify difficult challenges in advance and–together with other efforts–enhance USVISIT’s chances for eventual success as a tracking system.

    [Read More…]

  • Queens Business Owner Pleads Guilty to Payroll Tax Fraud
    In Crime News
    A New York woman pleaded guilty today to employment tax crimes.

    [Read More…]

  • Joint Communiqué by Ministers of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken And Brazilian Foreign Minister Carlos Franca Before Their Meeting
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Muncie, Indiana Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Misprision of Felony for Concealing Crime Committed by Another Officer
    In Crime News
    Dalton Kurtz, 31, an officer with the Muncie Police Department (MPD), in Muncie, Indiana, pleaded guilty today to one count of misprision of felony, for concealing and failing to report a fellow officer’s inappropriate use of force.

    [Read More…]

  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken with Ina Strazdina of LTV
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Chief Justice Roberts Issues 2021 Year-End Report
    In U.S Courts
    Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., has issued his 2021 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary.

    [Read More…]

  • Transportation Security: TSA Efforts to Coordinate with Stakeholders on COVID-19 Security Directives
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Starting in January 2020, presidential executive actions imposed restrictions on international air travel to the U.S. from certain countries and mandated that face masks be worn on transportation systems, due to COVID-19. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued security directives to operators of transportation systems to implement these executive actions. TSA expedited coordination with external stakeholders—other federal agencies and industry—to develop and issue these directives, due to the urgent nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to TSA officials, development of security directives can take up to several months. However, the executive actions typically gave TSA less than a week to issue the COVID-19 security directives. While selected external stakeholders raised several issues with the security directives, they stated that TSA’s expedited coordination was generally effective. TSA Face Mask Security Directive Signage at Airport Security Checkpoints TSA took steps to ensure operator implementation of its security directives and, in addition to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has investigated incidents of or related to non-masked passengers. For example, TSA conducts in-person inspections of air carriers’ preboarding procedures for U.S.-bound flights to confirm that they are following the directives restricting travel from certain countries. It also conducts investigations into incidents reported by transportation operators of passengers who refuse to comply with the face mask security directives and become disruptive or aggressive towards an operator or others. Of the over 3,800 incidents investigated from February 2021—when the face mask security directive was implemented—to March 2022, TSA issued more than 2,700 warning notices and over 900 civil penalties against passengers. Separately, the FAA investigates incidents of unruly passengers who interfere with crew members in their duties, including times when they have been asked to comply with the face mask security directive. Why GAO Did This Study In response to the pandemic, the federal government has been concerned about how to slow the spread of COVID-19, including in the transportation sector. TSA, the federal agency responsible for securing the nation’s transportation sector, issues security directives if threat information, events, or significant vulnerabilities indicate that additional security measures are needed. TSA security directives establish mandatory measures for transportation operators to implement. The CARES Act includes a provision for GAO to monitor the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic. GAO was also asked to review TSA efforts to respond. This report describes TSA’s (1) security directives issued to address COVID-19, (2) coordination with interagency and industry stakeholders on COVID-19 security directives, and (3) efforts to ensure operators’ implementation of TSA’s COVID-19 security directives as well as TSA and FAA investigations of non-masked passengers. GAO reviewed relevant agency documents and guidance, and analyzed data on related enforcement actions taken from February 2, 2021 to March 7, 2022 for TSA and from January 1, 2021 to November 1, 2021 for FAA. GAO interviewed TSA, FAA, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials as well as a nongeneralizable sample of transportation stakeholders, selected based on transportation mode, region of operation, and other factors to obtain insights into stakeholder perspectives on TSA coordination. For more information, contact Tina Won Sherman at (202) 512-8461 or shermant@gao.gov.

    [Read More…]

  • Florida Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges for Fraudulently Obtaining and Laundering More than $4 Million in Paycheck Protection Program Loans
    In Crime News
    A Florida man pleaded guilty today in the District of New Jersey to fraudulently obtaining more than $4.6 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, and subsequently laundering the loan proceeds through a series of illicit financial transactions.

    [Read More…]

  • Arkansas RV Salesman Indicted for Income Tax Evasion
    In Crime News
    An indictment was unsealed today charging an Arkansas man with three counts of evading his individual income taxes.

    [Read More…]

  • Defense Contracting: Actions Needed to Explore Additional Opportunities to Gain Efficiencies in Acquiring Foreign Language Support
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO FoundDOD has taken some steps to gain efficiencies in its approach to contracting for certain types of foreign language support services and products, but its contracting approach for other types remains fragmented across multiple components, and DOD has not explored whether additional opportunities exist to gain efficiencies across this broader range of contracting activity. In 2005, DOD sought to centralize and standardize contracting efforts for foreign language support by designating the Army as an executive agent to manage contracting in this area. In performing its responsibilities, the executive agent has focused its efforts solely on arranging for contracts to acquire translation and interpretation services for contingency operations because of the rapidly increasing requirements for these services. Specifically, from fiscal year 2008 through 2012, the Army, as executive agent, obligated about $5.2 billion for contracts to provide DOD components with translation and interpretation services for contingency operations. During the same time period, we found that multiple DOD components contracted independently for foreign language support outside of the executive agent’s management. Specifically, to support the needs of contingency operations, predeployment training, and day-to-day military activities, we identified 159 contracting organizations in 10 different DOD components that obligated approximately $1.2 billion on contracts for foreign language support outside of those managed by the executive agent. In some cases, DOD has gained efficiencies by centralizing contracting for certain foreign language support contracts under an executive agent, but DOD has not comprehensively assessed whether additional opportunities exist to gain efficiencies across a broader range of foreign language support contracts. Best practices for service acquisition suggest that DOD’s acquisition approach should provide for an agency-wide view of service contract spending and promote collaboration to leverage buying power across multiple organizations. Implementing such an approach requires an analysis of where an organization is spending its money, which should be the starting point for gaining knowledge that can assist agencies in determining which products and services warrant a more coordinated acquisition approach.8 In commenting on a draft of this report, DOD agreed with our recommendations. DOD also provided technical comments on a draft of this report, which we incorporated, where appropriate. However, DOD has not conducted an analysis of this type to evaluate the whole range of services and products that are currently managed outside the executive agent and determine whether additional efficiencies could be gained. Without a more complete understanding of where the department is spending resources on foreign language support contracts, DOD does not have all of the information it needs to make informed decisions about the types of services and products that could be managed by the executive agent and does not have reasonable assurance that it is fully leveraging its buying power for foreign language support.Why GAO Did This StudyAccording to the Department of Defense (DOD), the ability of U.S. military personnel to communicate and interact with multinational partners, security forces, and local indigenous populations can be critical factors to mission success, as evidenced by operational experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq. DOD utilizes language professionals and regional experts within its ranks of military personnel to provide foreign language support, such as foreign language skills, regional expertise, and cultural awareness capabilities needed to execute missions, as well as contracted interpreters and translators who provide this support. To meet increased demands on the need for foreign language support from ongoing contingency operations, DOD has relied on contactors to supplement the capability provided by military personnel. For example, the number of contractor personnel required to provide foreign language translation and interpretation services for contingency operations more than tripled from 2004 to 2010 (from about 4,000 to about 14,000). As of November 2012, the number of contractor personnel required by DOD was approximately 9,000. As a result, DOD has made considerable investments in providing contract support. For example, DOD obligated about $6.8 billion from fiscal years 2008 through 2012 to acquire a variety of foreign language-related services and products to support its forces.We have identified opportunities for DOD to improve its approach to contracting from a broad perspective as well as in areas related to foreign language support. For example, DOD contract management is on our list of high-risk areas in the federal government. In 2013, we noted that DOD needed to take steps to strategically manage the acquisition of services, including developing the data needed to define and measure desired outcomes to improve outcomes on the billions of dollars that DOD spends annually on goods and services. Furthermore, since 2009 we have identified a number of management challenges that DOD has faced in developing a strategic planning process to transform foreign language and regional proficiency capabilities, identifying training requirements, and reducing unnecessary overlap and duplication in foreign language and cultural awareness training products acquired by the military services.We conducted this work in response to a congressional mandate set forth in Section 21 of Public Law 111-139. That legislation requires that we identify government programs, agencies, offices, and initiatives with duplicative goals and activities and report our findings to Congress. Our objective for this report was to determine the extent to which DOD has taken steps to achieve efficiencies in its approach to contracting for foreign language support, and whether additional opportunities exist to gain further efficiencies.

    [Read More…]

  • South Africa Travel Advisory
    Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
  • Florida Man Charged with Federal Hate Crime
    In Crime News
    A Florida man was charged with federal hate crime in Ocala for setting fire to a church.

    [Read More…]

  • Four Russian Government Employees Charged in Two Historical Hacking Campaigns Targeting Critical Infrastructure Worldwide
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice unsealed two indictments today charging four defendants, all Russian nationals who worked for the Russian government, with attempting, supporting and conducting computer intrusions that together, in two separate conspiracies, targeted the global energy sector between 2012 and 2018. In total, these hacking campaigns targeted thousands of computers, at hundreds of companies and organizations, in approximately 135 countries.

    [Read More…]

  • USAO hosts roundtable on cyberintrusion safety measures
    In Justice News
    HOUSTON – Local critical [Read More…]
  • Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta Delivers Remarks at the U.S. Conference of Mayors
    In Crime News
    Thank you, Mayor Lightfoot and Mayor Lucas, for your introductions and insightful remarks. I also want to congratulate Mayor Suarez on his recent inauguration as the President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

    [Read More…]

  • Former Commander of Naval Station Guantanamo Bay Sentenced to Prison
    In Crime News
    A former Commander of Naval Station Guantanamo Bay (GTMO) was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison following his multiple convictions of obstructing justice and making false statements, in connection with the death of a civilian at the naval base.

    [Read More…]

  • Briefing with Senior Administration Officials Previewing Deputy Secretary Sherman’s Upcoming Travel to the People’s Republic of China
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Nebraska Railcar Cleaning Company and its Owners Plead Guilty to Violating Environmental and Worker Safety Laws Related to Workers’ 2015 Deaths
    In Crime News
    Nebraska Railcar Cleaning Services LLC (NRCS), its president and owner, Steven Michael Braithwaite, and its vice president and co-owner, Adam Thomas Braithwaite, pleaded guilty today in federal court in Omaha to charges stemming from an investigation into a 2015 fatal railcar explosion that killed two workers. The charges include conspiracy, violating worker safety standards resulting in worker deaths, violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and submitting false documents to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

    [Read More…]

Source: Network News
Area Control Network

Copyright © 2022 ACN
All Rights Reserved © ACN 2020

ACN Privacy Policies
ACN TOS
Area Control Network (ACN)
Area Control Network
Area Control Network Center