Chesterton Tribune



Porter County to pay out $151k in settlements with auditor employees fired by Wichlinski

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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 for compensation.

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 consultants.



Posted 6/12/2015




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