Antrim Township discrimination suit closes in June

PAT FRIDGEN

The age discrimination suit filed against Antrim Township after it fired six key personnel on Aug. 21, 2008, closed on June 14 with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. PHRC director of communications Shannon Powers said she was unable to give details on specific reasons the case closed, since it did not reach the public hearing stage, and no information would be available online.

Five of the terminated employees filed a complaint on Jan. 23, 2009, within the 180 days they were allowed to do so. The commission began its investigation that Feb. 28. The ages of the five at the time of dismissal were: Larson Wenger, 54; Ben Thomas Jr., 52; Charles Goetz, 51; Eileen Strausner, 50; and Paul Barnett, 47.

Antrim's insurance carrier, Penn National Realty, hired the firm Thomas, Thomas and Hafer in Harrisburg to represent the board of supervisors, which had reorganized the municipal government. Attorney Crystal Clark handled the case. In 2010 Antrim paid the law firm $1,200; and in 2011, $2,277.16; for deductibles and employment matters.

Powers said in an email, "In general, cases close without a hearing for several reasons including, but not limited to, a settlement, investigative finding of no probable cause (not enough evidence to support the allegations) or a court filing."

The complainants could have sued in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas a year after the case was filed with PHRC, but did not do so.

Antrim administrator Brad Graham made a short statement after an executive session during the Sept. 15 board of supervisors meeting, "The township is pleased that the PHRC made a decision."

The employees in the suit released a statement. “The former employees who were dismissed in August, 2008 were disappointed in the recent ruling by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission that took over two years to review.  We are very proud of the service we provided to the supervisors, commissions, (Antrim Township Municipal) Authority, Park Committee, citizens and visitors of Antrim Township; for the grants applied for and received; upgrading of a modern sewer and water system; Antrim Township Community Park; Grindstone Hill Road extension; enhanced safety improvements to traffic lights and intersection upgrades for our volunteer firefighters and EMTs; implementation and successful audits that were GASB-34 compliant; total reconstruction of many of the formerly tar and chip township roads; bridge replacements and widening; as well as the many behind-the-scenes activities to enhance the quality of life in the greater Greencastle-Antrim community.”