County settles suit filed by ex-detective

December 26, 2012

Earlier this month, the Washington County commissioners settled an age discrimination suit filed by a former detective for $50,000.

County Solicitor J. Lynn DeHaven said last week the settlement included $25,127 to the ex-employee, Edward S. Peters, paid by Chartis Insurance Co.; $15,000 to Peters’ attorney, also paid by Chartis; and $9,872 to Peters paid from the county treasury.

Peters claimed he lost his job because of age discrimination while Steven Toprani was district attorney. Although Toprani was an elected official, Peters named the county as the defendant in the suit filed last year in federal court.

Peters, a former state trooper who lives in Allegheny County, said in the suit he was fired when he was 66 years old. County records show he was hired as a detective for the district attorney’s office in 1997 during the administration of the late John C. Pettit and last worked for the domestic and sex crimes unit.

Peters’ suit said he ceased to be a county employee Jan. 31, 2010, “due to an alleged lack of funding for Peters’ unit,” a few months after another grant expired funded the job of a younger detective in Peters’ unit.

The younger detective continued in his job, and another significantly younger detective was hired for Peters’ unit, the suit alleged. Peters said he was about 30 years older than each of them. Despite a claim that Peters’ position was eliminated, Peters said a significantly younger employee was assigned to his position.

He first pursued his case through the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. He received a determination in October 2011 from the EEOC that “there is reason to believe a violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act has occurred,” but he said conciliation efforts were unsuccessful.

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.

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