Published on June 02, 2022 at 11:38 am
Schuylkill County Human Resources Director Heidi L. Zula’s last day is Friday.
Hired on December 9, 2020, at $79,000 per year, Zula begins her new position as Director of Human Resources at the Harrisburg School District on June 6 with a salary of $125,000 per year.
The commissioners, in the absence of commissioner Gary J. Hess, formally accepted his resignation on Wednesday; they did not say why she was leaving.
Zula is named in the federal sexual harassment lawsuit filed in March 2021 in the U.S. District Court in Scranton, by four women who work at the courthouse, against Commissioner George F. Halcovage Jr.
Zula replaced acting director of human resources Doreen M. Kutzler, who replaced Deborah A. Twigg.
Twigg was hired in January 2018, following the retirement of her predecessor Martina A. Chwastiak.
The other defendants in the federal lawsuit are County, First Assistant County Attorney/Risk Manager Glenn T. Roth Jr., County Administrator Gary R. Bender and Kutzler.
According to the lawsuit, the women accuse Halcovage of harassing them since he was elected in 2012. The others are accused of failing to arrest him and what the women say is retaliatory action taken against them.
All five defendants have denied the charges and the US Department of Justice has since joined the prosecution.
Although the women are only identified in the lawsuit as Jane Doe 1, Jane Doe 2, Jane Doe 3 and Jane Doe 4, tax assessment director Angela Toomey and her assistant, Denise McGinley-Gerchak, have since been identified. after commissioners twice tried to fire them for allegedly using sensitive county-owned software, LexisNexis, to seek personal information about about 300 people, including some county officials.
Because the software also reveals information about people associated with research subjects, the commissioners said personal information – including driver’s license, financial information, addresses and other data – of a total 9,146 people may have been compromised.
On March 9, the commissioners agreed to pay Experian $277,894 to notify these thousands of people and offer them each a year of free credit monitoring.
In September, the commissioners attempted to fire Toomey and Gerchak, but Hess called for an investigation. The women were suspended without pay pending the results.
The survey was launched in November. The results were never made public.
But based on that investigation, the commissioners in March made a second attempt to fire the women. It fell through when Halcovage abstained, Hess voted no, and Commissioners Chairman Barron L. Hetherington voted yes.
The women have since earned unemployment benefits and are working from home.
An investigation by the county’s human resources department in June 2020 determined that Halcovage violated policies on sexual harassment, conduct and disciplinary action, and physical and verbal abuse.
In January, State Senator David G. Argall launched an action to impeach Halcovage. This process moves through the state legislature.