The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

February 14, 2013

Fired Snyder County Jail guards fight for reinstatement

By Marcia Moore
The Daily Item

— MIDDLEBURG — Two fired Snyder County Jail guards cleared of wrongdoing in a sexual harassment case last summer are still fighting for their jobs.

Heather Rohrbach and William Griffiths were fired last February for sexually harassing a female co-worker about a love note she had received from a smitten inmate.

Rohrbach, a seven-year employee, and Griffiths, a four-year employee, filed a grievance through their union, Teamsters Local 764, denying any harassment took place and asking to be reinstated.

The county appealed an arbitrator’s decision last July upholding the guards’ position that no sexual harassment or misconduct occurred.

On Wednesday, lawyers for the Teamsters and the county argued their sides before Clinton County Senior Judge Richard Saxton, who was appointed after Snyder County judges recused themselves.

Cory Iannacone, the county’s labor attorney, argued that county officials were required to act under Affirmative Action when the guards engaged in “sexual and racial innuendo” in the workplace.

“The county has taken steps encouraged under the law,” Iannacone said.

Teamsters attorney Thomas Kohn said the county overstated the case and described the incident involving the guards as isolated and brief.

Kohn added that sexual banter is “commonplace” in a prison environment.

“And that makes it OK?” Saxton inquired.

Kohn argued the county failed to follow its own policy when it fired the guards instead of issuing a warning and placing them on probation for a year for the alleged violation.

Iannacone said the policy is irrelevant in this case because that disciplinary action was not negotiated in the employees’ contract.

Rohrbach and Griffiths remain off the county payroll pending Saxton’s decision.