Termination of Secretary not Without Co$t for Mount Pocono
MOUNT POCONO – 2020 began with Mount Pocono Borough Council suddenly and without explanation dismissing zoning officer Dennis Noonan.
Reacting angrily at the time, council member Fran O’Boyle said that the council was “out to get Lori” Noonan, Dennis’ wife. She was then celebrating – almost to the day – 30 years as Borough Secretary-Treasurer. The year ended with the council firing her.
In between, they reduced her to part-time and, while she was on medical leave, yanked away her benefits.
In response, the union representing borough employees lodged unfair labor charges claiming that the actions were illegal retaliation for the Noonans’ support of the employees’ desire to unionize.
The borough hired a high-priced Pittsburgh labor lawyer to defend the council and mayor. The Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board ordered the Teamsters’ claim to a trial, which was held in late October. A decision was anticipated in February or March of this year.
However, after the hearing, the council entered into settlement discussions. In late December, they agreed to pay Lori $32,767 to settle her claims against the borough. The settlement avoided a decision on the Teamsters’ complaint, which could have involved substantial fines and penalties. The Boro was denied a copy of the settlement.
In addition to the money paid in settlement, the council incurred legal bills reportedly in excess of $35,000 to defend their actions. The precise amount of legal bills is not known as the council has not provided copies of all of the bills to The Boro. The bills have been reported to us by borough employees, granted anonymity for fear of retaliation.
Council also hired two people to do Lori’s job - a full-time borough manager, plus a part-time treasurer. This cost the borough over $70,000 in 2020 alone.
The settlement does not, however, resolve all of the legal claims facing the borough from their labor-related actions. Teamsters union spokesperson, Matt Weidman, confirmed to The Boro that the council’s settlement with Lori will not affect the union’s other charges against the borough. The teamsters are proceeding with claims based on the council’s alleged unfair and punitive actions against one or more other employees. In addition, negotiations on a collective bargaining agreement with the remaining employees will be commencing in 2021.