Northumberland County wants lawsuit filed by former deputy sheriff dismissed
WILLIAMSPORT - Northumberland County has filed its answer to a lawsuit by a former female deputy sheriff, asking for its dismissal.
In court documents filed Wednesday with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, attorneys Frank J. Lavery Jr. and Sunshine J. Thomas, of Harrisburg, representing the county, refuted sexual discrimination and wrongful termination claims made by Nicole Baker, of Kulpmont, saying they have no merit.
Baker, a Northumberland County deputy sheriff from March 2010 to April 2012, said in her Jan. 16 filing she was terminated by the department due to county budget cuts, but was not informed why three male deputies with less seniority retained their positions.
When another deputy resigned in February 2013, Baker said the department hired a man instead of calling her back to work. She also alleged she was discriminated against because of her gender and retaliated against after filing a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in October 2012.
The county's answer to the suit simply stated Baker failed to present any evidence supporting her allegations.
"Her only allegation in this regard is that she is a female and that other male employees were not discharged," the filing reads.
Lavery said Baker's complaint is merely a "recitation of the elements of a cause of action, which is insufficient to survive a motion to dismiss."
The former deputy is asking for unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and attorney fees. Another filing made Wednesday by Lavery and Thomas stated the attorneys spoke with Baker's attorney, Michael J. Zicolello, of Williamsport, and the two sides agree Baker cannot ask for punitive damages because federal law prohibits recovery of punitive damages on discrimination claims against state governments or municipalities.
Zicolello did not concur with dismissing the rest of the lawsuit, according to the filing.