Four Porter County
employees whose positions were terminated in February 2014 under the
leadership of previous County Auditor Robert Wichlinski have all signed
legal settlement agreements not to sue over claims they filed with the Equal
Opportunity Commission against agents of Porter County Government in return
According to the
agreements, which the Chesterton Tribune obtained through the County
Attorney’s office on Thursday, former deputy auditor Beverly Beschinski and
GIS project developer Stephen Bertrand agreed to $12,000 settlements, signed
on May 19 and May 20 of this year, respectively.
Former real estate
chief deputy Christine Bertrand and executive chief deputy Alizabeth Bailey
both agreed to settlements of $63,800, signed on May 26 and June 1 by their
attorney Kimberly Jeselskis of Jeselskis Law Offices LLC in Indianapolis.
The total of
$151,600 will be paid through the County’s insurance company.
In consideration of
compensation, each of the four gave “further promise and covenant not to
bring any sort of lawsuit, action, administrative charge, or other manner
against any of the Released Parties,” against Wichlinski or any County
official, acknowledging they give up the right to pursue claims for any
damages or violations of civil rights.
Both Beschinski and
Christine Bertrand also agreed to waive their rights under the Age
Discrimination in Employment Act.
The agreements say
that all proceeds from the settlements are to be “100 percent compensatory
damages” and zero percent for back pay or wages.
The four, along
with a fifth employee -- the late Lindy Wilson, who worked as a deputy
auditor -- lost their jobs as a result of Wichlinski “restructuring” his
office. The action was done in the wake of the Porter County Council request
for department heads to cut their yearly budgets by 10 percent to offset
shortfalls in the County’s general fund.
Wichlinski at the
time contended that his decision to eliminate the five positions was
weighted on the basis that the affected employees would not find success in
the new direction he wanted to take his office, which he said would
streamline services provided to the taxpayers.
A few of the
employees, some who had worked in the office for over 20 years, alleged
politics played a role in the matter and criticized Wichlinski’s spending on