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Allegheny

Allegheny County pays $1.15M settlement in ex-jail major's age discrimination case

| Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017, 4:27 p.m.
Allegheny County Jail
JUSTIN MERRIMAN
Allegheny County Jail

Allegheny County paid a $1.15 million settlement to a former major at the Allegheny County Jail who says he was fired because of his age and for using the Family Medical Leave Act.

Walter Mikulan, 62, of Hampton was fired in August 2013 after nearly 30 years without a reason, according to a complaint filed in August 2015 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Allegheny County officials declined to comment on the settlement.

Jail Warden Orlando Harper began complaining about employees abusing FMLA in 2012, the complaint said.

When Mikulan took days off under FMLA for anxiety and depression the following year, under his doctor's advice, Harper made negative comments, the complaint said.

Mikulan had to undergo disciplinary hearings for minor infractions, the complaint said.

After he was fired, Mikulan was replaced with “younger, less qualified men,” the complaint said.

County jail officials have a history of targeting older employees with discipline, frequent shift changes and other harassing behavior in an attempt to “force them into retirement,” the complaint said.

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission granted Mikulan a “right to sue” notification.

The $1.15 million settlement will be distributed up this way:

• $432,580 to the law office of Timothy P. O'Brien for attorney's fees and costs.

• $283,052 to Mikulan as wages.

• $283,052 to Mikulan as payment for claims.

• $151,316 to Stember Cohn & Davidson-Welling, LLC, for attorney's fees and costs.

The county is making the payment as a result of a federal court jury's decision in June.

Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-5669, tclift@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tclift.

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