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Investigation Finds No Evidence of Age Discrimination
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2018-10-11

            An investigation by a West Chester law firm found no evidence of age discrimination against a borough employee. Lamb McErlane, PC determined that the facts did not support a complaint that the person "had been treated differently or had endured a hostile work environment because of his/her age," according to an executive summary issued Sept. 19 and obtained by the Town and Country through a Right to Know Request.

            According to a five-page investigation report issued 12 days earlier, the firm could not discover any facts to substantiate claims made by East Greenville Police Chief Drew Skelton against two council members.

            "We have been unable to find any pervasive or regular discrimination based on Mr. Skelton's age that would rise to the level of a hostile work environment," states the investigation report, obtained by the newspaper. 

             It also identifies the appearance of "a toxic work environment because of differing personal, political and professional opinions." 

            On May 21, council retained the firm to investigate the Skelton's claim of age discrimination against members Joe Rock and Lon Brinckman II, as well as an age-related hostile working environment. However, the investigation found "that there have been no adverse employment actions taken against Mr. Skelton, whether related to his age or otherwise," according to the report.

            Skelton based his complaint on comments made by Rock and Brinckman regarding the police department. On Jan. 8, the chief submitted an email to Mayor Keith Gerhart, which with a copies to solicitor Michael Peters and manager Jim Fry, describing statements by Rock as "reckless, insensitive, damaging, unprofessional, irresponsible and hateful," according to the document issued Sept. 12.

            Before he was elected to council, Rock asked during an Oct. 16, 2017 public meeting, "do you think the kids are going to look up to people that are retired, as a cop? He also stated that "children are going to respond to the group we had with the Upper Perk Police Department, in my opinion...I have children and grandchildren. I know how children think..." Later in the same meeting, he stated that "children do not look up to older people like they do a younger person, when they gotta look up to somebody, and trust somebody, like a police officer," according to the document.

            Skelton also claimed that Rock's vote to disband the police department on Jan. 2 "was motivated, in part, by his disdain for 'old cops.'" Further, Skelton claims Rock, in conversations after the Jan. 2 meeting, restated his opinion that young people are "more likely to confess to younger officers," according to the report.

            Later in the year, Skelton received an anonymous mailing, a printed out email from Brinckman expressing concerns about the age of the borough's police officers. The chief sent the information to Fry, Gerhart and Off. Randy Morris in a May 9 email message, the report states.

            During an interview with investigators, Skelton claimed that multiple social media posts by Brinckman, Gerhart and other residents were discriminatory. The police chief also claimed the actions by the mayor and council "related to the lack of fortifications at the police building are based on age discrimination, as well."

            Members of Lamb McErlane reviewed meeting minutes, agendas, videos, the borough's human resource policies, Skelton's employment agreement, various email correspondences between the chief regarding his concerns over safety at the police department's building, part-time officers, one community Facebook page and social media posts by Gerhart, Brinckman and other residents.

            Between June 7 and July 31, they interviewed Fry, Skelton, Morris, Off. Josh Halteman, Gerhart and resident Debbie Finn. Rock and Brinckman did not agree to meet with the representatives of the law firm. Rock submitted a series of written responses to questions on Aug.  3, according to the report.


 

 

 

 

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