In today's Noted section, I wrote about two settlements being considered
by the El Paso County commissioners.
El Paso County Sheriff's Office
Sergeants Charles Kull
and Emory Gerhart
resigned their positions in December 2013, then sued the county claiming they had been harassed and emotionally abused under the leadership of then-Sheriff Terry Maketa
Maketa, of course, has faced a whole host of problems, from the fallout over at least one in-office affair to a Colorado Bureau of Investigations inquiry. Anyway, the commissioners decided to settle the cases.
Read on for the county's take on the situation:
Agreements Settle Two Employment Complaints Against Sheriff’s Office
El Paso County, CO, May 12, 2015 – The Board of El Paso County Commissioners today approved two resolutions which settle of all claims brought against the County, the Sheriff's Office, former Sheriff Terry Maketa and former Undersheriff Paula Presley by two employees of the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.
Sergeants Charles Kull and Emory Gerhart resigned their positions as sworn personnel with the Sheriff's Office in December of 2013 and subsequently filed claims for monetary damages citing loss of income and benefits due to adverse employment conditions.
Sheriff’s Bill Elder joined County Attorney Amy Folsom and outside legal counsel Glenn Schlabs from the firm of Sherman and Howard in recommending approval of the settlements. “I wholeheartedly support this,” Sheriff Bill Elder told Commissioners. “The mere existence of these issues is a deep distraction so the sooner we can find ways to put them behind us the better.”
“Each claim is different and is evaluated on its own merit. I’m confident that the amounts presented are significantly less than the cost of protracted litigation,” said County Attorney Amy Folsom. “These claims were evaluated by outside counsel from Sherman and Howard and they concur that this is the best resolution of these particular claims.”
-Sergeants Emory Gerhart and Charles Kull resigned their positions with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office in December of 2013.
-They subsequently filed claims generally claiming “constructive discharge/wrongful termination” and naming former Sheriff Terry Maketa, Undersheriff Paula Presley, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and El Paso County as defendants.
-Emory Gerhart returned to duty shortly after Sheriff Elder took office in 2015. The proposed settlement agreement for Charles Kull includes an offer of reinstatement and he is expected to return to duty this month.
-The settlements collectively represent approximately $158,000 in lost wages and an additional $40,000 in taxes and benefits. The lost wages will be paid from the Sheriff’s Office salary and compensation funds.
-Settlement of these two claims does not set any sort of precedent. The facts surrounding these two claims are different from each other and different from other claims still pending from former and current El Paso County Sheriff’s Office employees.
-The Board of County Commissioners engaged the law firm of Sherman and Howard to oversee and independent investigation of employment related claims. Attorney Glenn Schlabs of the firm of Sherman and Howard advised Commissioners spoke in favor of the settlements. Schlabs says, “This represents a much better alternative than to deal with ongoing expense and inherent risks of protracted litigation and perhaps, even more importantly, it’s an important step in letting Sheriff Elder restore employee morale and move forward with his plans to ensure that citizens receive the best possible service from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.”