Westmoreland County settles another discrimination claim at sheriff’s department
Westmoreland County commissioners on Thursday agreed to settle a racial discrimination complaint filed by a former sheriff’s deputy.
The out-of-court settlement calls for a payment of $17,500 to former Deputy Mark Taylor, who was one of three people to accuse the county sheriff’s department of racial discrimination last year.
Commissioners declined to comment on the settlement.
“I don’t have anything more to say about this chaos,” Commissioner Ted Kopas said, in an apparent reference to the fact that commissioners have settled eight lawsuits filed against the sheriff’s office in recent years.
Last fall, commissioners paid two settlements of $85,000 each to end racial discrimination lawsuits brought by unsuccessful black job applicants.
In once case, Anna Gerald, 27, of Monroeville, claimed she was rejected in 2015 for a job as a clerk in the department’s warrant division because she is black.
In the other case, Simeon McClain, 61, of Jeannette, claimed he was rejected in 2015 for a part-time deputy position because he is black. At the time he applied, McClain had nearly 30 years’ experience as a police officer with the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, according to the lawsuit.
As of October, such settlements had cost taxpayers $273,000, and legal fees associated with defending the lawsuits had exceeded $150,000, officials said.
In the case of Taylor, he served notice of his intent to file a lawsuit around the same time as Gerald and McClain, but the matter was resolved before it reached that stage, said county Solicitor Melissa Guiddy.
Taylor worked for the sheriff’s department from 1992 to 2016, when he retired, said his attorney, Nikki Lykos.
“His claim was based on race discrimination and retaliation because he had made some complaints,” Lykos said. She declined further comment.
Sheriff Jonathan Held did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter .