Lackawanna County Wins Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

According to the Scranton Times-Tribune, Mike Shumek won a settlement in a federal lawsuit that claimed wrongful termination. Shumek claimed his former boss, Controller Ken McDowell, fired him days after Shumek was sworn into his position as an office manager for the county treasurer.

McDowell wanted to fill the position with someone more in line with his management style, claims Shumek’s termination letter. Shumek argued that the firing was politically charged and that McDowell violated his due process and freedom of speech rights.

Shumek was reportedly rehired within a few weeks but for less money and in another position in the treasurer’s office. Shumek sued and won about $200,000, which includes a lump sum and back salary. As a part of the settlement, his annual salary, along with salary lost and seniority dating back to 1982 will be restored, as well as vacation and collected sick leave.

The salary board agreed to restore Shumek’s annual salary to $36,989, which is the amount he would be receiving if he were still with the controller’s office. The county’s insurance provider, Scottsdale Insurance, will pay out Shumek’s settlement. In a separate arbitration case, the county paid Shumek $2,937 for wages her lost between firing and rehiring less than two months later. An arbitrator ruled that Shumek’s firing came without a cause and in violation of the county’s contract with the union representing controller’s office employees.