The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

October 18, 2013

Fired sex-jester jail guards may get jobs back

— MIDDLEBURG — The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania has ruled that two fired Snyder County Prison guards were wrongly terminated for sexual harassment and should be reinstated with back pay.

Heather Rohrbach and William Griffiths were fired in February 2012 for sexually harassing a female nurse working in the Selinsgrove lockup about a love note the nurse had received from an inmate.

Rohrbach, a seven-year jail employee, and Griffiths, a four-year worker, filed a grievance through the Teamsters Local 764 denying any improper conduct.

An arbitrator ruled in June 2012 that the conduct of the guards was not sexual harassment, but sexual banter that occurred only in the presence of prison workers on a single day in January 2012.

The county appealed to vacate the arbitrator’s award that reinstated the two guards with back pay.

Arguing before Clinton County Senior Judge Richard Saxton, who was appointed after Snyder County judges recused themselves from hearing the case, the county’s labor attorney said prison officials were required under Affirmative Action to discipline the two guards for engaging in sexual innuendo in the workplace.

The Teamsters said the county overstated the case.

Saxton ruled in favor of the county, vacating the arbitrator’s award and upholding the terminations of Rohrbach and Griffiths.

Trial court ruling reversed

The union appealed the decision to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, which reversed the trial court’s ruling and upheld the arbitrator’s ruling.

“The critical issue here, therefore, is whether the conduct constitutes sexual harassment. It does not,” the 14-page opinion issued by the three-member panel said. “For conduct of nonsupervisor co-workers to constitute sexual harassment, it must be so severe or pervasive that it creates an abusive working environment. Simple teasing, off-hand comments and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) do not constitute sexual harassment.”

The latest court opinion may not end put an end to the dispute.

Prison board chairman Malcolm Derk said he will discuss whether to pursue an appeal with fellow commissioners Joe Kantz and Peggy Chamberlain Roup and solicitor Robert Cravitz next week.

The county could decide to let the ruling stand and allow the former guards to return to their jobs or request the issue be reviewed again by the full nine-member panel of the Commonwealth Court or the state Supreme Court.

n Email comments to mmoore@dailyitem.com.

1
Text Only
News
  • Baby, 3 others hurt in Route 11 crash near Danville

    DANVILLE — Two women, an infant and the baby’s 2-year-old girl sister were taken to Geisinger Medical Center following a three-vehicle chain-reaction accident at 3:14 p.m. Friday on Route 11 near Steve Shannon Tire and Auto Center in Mahoning Township.

    July 26, 2014

  • eyebrows.jpg Coming Sunday: Browsing for brows

    As makeup sales soar, four tips to make your eyebrows raise others'. Coming Sunday

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • William Cameron to spend $12,000 to find new chief

    LEWISBURG — The William Cameron Engine Company will pay a State College consulting firm more than $12,000 to help the Lewisburg fire house find its first paid chief after its first national search to fill the job ended without a new leader.

    July 26, 2014

  • Ann Targonski DA clears officer in Sunbury shooting

    SUNBURY — Three shots from a Taser could not stop 390-pound Erick Trometter from attacking Sunbury’s then-acting Police Chief Brad Hare with a large filet knife, so the veteran officer drew his gun and shot the 22-year-old city man in the leg, according to a report issued Friday.

    July 26, 2014 2 Photos

  • stauffer25br.jpg Area cyclist pedals 4,233 miles in 21 days for race

    Growing up in a Mennonite family, Jesse Stauffer often traveled the roads in Snyder County on a bicycle.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Amazon worker pilots drone around Space Needle

    Police say an out-of-town Amazon employee was the operator behind a drone that buzzed the Seattle Space Needle this week.

    July 25, 2014

  • Carjacked vehicle strikes crowd, killing 2 kids

    Two men forced a woman into the backseat of her car at gunpoint and drove it into a group of people on a corner in Philadelphia on Friday, killing two children and critically injuring three other people, police said.

    July 25, 2014

  • Man calls police chief "brain dead"

    A Liberty Township man was cited for placing a sign calling Mahoning Township’s police chief “brain dead and hell bound.”

    July 25, 2014

  • New warden returning to Lewisburg penitentiary

    David J. Ebbert has been tapped to replace Jeff Thomas as warden at United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg.

    July 25, 2014

  • Fast food workers to escalate wage demands

    Fast food workers say they’re prepared to escalate their campaign for higher wages and union representation, starting with a national convention in suburban Chicago where more than 1,000 workers are expected to discuss the future of the effort that has spread to dozens of cities in less than two years.

    July 25, 2014

The Daily Marquee
Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.