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Lawsuit against sheriff settled

Published August 31. 2012 05:02PM

Carbon County officials have settled a 2009 lawsuit that involved a county employee and the sheriff.

During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board voted 2-0 to authorize and execute any and all documents relative to the settlement agreement between the county, Sheriff Dwight Nothstein and Evelyn Hydock-Horos of Jim Thorpe. Commissioner Chairman Wayne Nothstein, who is Sheriff Nothstein's brother, abstained from the vote but said he supported the county's decision because he "felt it was in the county's best interest."

The terms of the agreement, which were obtained through filing a request with the county Opens Records office in accordance with the Pennsylvania Right to Know Law, include the county paying a total of $60,000 $33,897.50 to Hydock-Horos and $26,102.50 to Hahalis and Kounoupis PC; as well as Hydock-Horos withdrawing the discrimination suit and resigning from her position in the county Sheriff's Office.

Hydock-Horos filed the suit against Sheriff Nothstein in November 2009 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania after claiming that she had experienced racial and sexual harassment and discrimination at her place of employment in 2006.

The suit stated that Hydock-Horos, who was currently out on unpaid leave, was denied a promotion to sergeant because she is Hispanic and female; and was subjected to a hostile work environment, including an alleged back rub and off-color comments made by the sheriff, during her employment in the sheriff's office. The suit sought damages in excess of $300,000 for future income, benefits and earnings; loss of past income, benefits and earnings; and punitive damages; as well as a promotion to sergeant.

From the time the suit was filed, Sheriff Nothstein has maintained that the allegations were false.

Prior to the vote, Commissioner William O'Gurek, who was the chairman at the time the lawsuit was filed, said that he stood behind the sheriff in defending the case.

"No one labored more in this case than the sheriff himself," O'Gurek said, adding that the suit and the allegations have been very "emotional and taxing" to the sheriff.

O'Gurek stressed that the agreement was made in the best interest of the county.

"My vote will be reflective in settling this case in the best interest of the county and certainly not as an admission of the county or sheriff's part of any wrong doing," he said.

According to the terms of the agreement, it "does not constitute an admission of liability by the county or Sheriff Dwight Nothstein that they have violated any law or deprived Hydock-Horos of any right guaranteed to her by law and, in fact, the county and Sheriff Nothstein expressly deny any such violation."

It continues that the purpose for the settlement was to resolve the parties' differences without the "costs and expenses of litigation."

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