Sheriu Nancy Hove
News
Sheriff Hove files discrimination complaint with EEOC

Alleges Pierce County Board hampered her ability to run PCSO

By Sarah Nigbor

ELLSWORTH – Accord ing to Pierce County Sher- iu Nancy Hove's attorney, discrimination by the Pierce County Board of Supervisors is one reason she has cho- sen not to seek re-election in April 2023. Hove, who is 55, has been the sheriu for 15 years. Austin Borton, an attor- ney for Jeurey Leavell SC of Racine, is representing Hove in her claims against Pierce County. He filed a complaint (charge of discrimination) on her behalf with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportu – nity Commission (EEOC) on Jan. 14, 2022. He said the

See SHERIFF HOVE, Page 9 Sheriff Hove

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county is aware of the charge of discrimi

– nation, which is a signed statement asserting that an employer, union or labor organization has engaged in employment discrimination. Hove was diagnosed with cancer on Sept. 9, 2020 and had surgery to remove a brain tumor. The complaint states that Hove "had time away from the oce for a few months after the surgery until March 2021," but fulfilled all of her obligations as sheri, al – though not "as physically present in the oce as she had been prior to the surgery." Hove's complaint alleges that when she re – turned to work in March 2021, she scheduled a meeting with then Pierce County Board Chair Je Holst and Supervisor Jon Aubart to discuss recent changes made to her depart – ment by the county board. A main discussion topic was the board's decision to move the oversight of dispatch to the emergency man – agement department. Hove said she wasn't consulted about the change. According to the minutes from the April 5, 2021 special Law Enforcement Commit –

tee meeting, moving dispatch under the su

pervision of the emergency management of

– fice (which is under the purview of the LEC) would make it clear that dispatch has one supervisor as opposed to three. The Pierce County Board approved Ordinance No. 21-03 at its April 20, 2021 meeting, amending Pierce County Code chapters 4 and 10 to place dispatch supervision under the emer – gency management department. The complaint also alleges that during the March 23 meeting with Holst and Aubart, Hove was told she should step down and let Chief Deputy Steve Albarado take care of things, that she was "getting old" and "should retire." The complaint states that Hove wrote a letter dated April 9, 2021 requesting the Pierce County Board and County Administra – tor Jason Matthys "stop contacting her sta and discussing the operations of the Sheri's department without her consultation and to cease attempting to run the oce without her." The complaint goes on to list other al – leged discriminatory actions, such as denying the sheri's oce department budget without explanation, threatening to or eliminating po – sitions from the sheri's oce, reclassifying a jail sta position, and impeding her from doing her job due to age and perceived dis – ability discrimination. Pierce County Corporation Counsel Brad Lawrence said in an email dated April 27 that Pierce County has not received any commu – nication or complaint from the EEOC, so is

in no position to comment on any specific al

– legations that Hove may have asserted. "Pierce County categorically denies that the Board of Supervisors, or anyone else, dis – criminated against the sheri in any way, and denies all of her allegations, which are base –

less and completely without merit," Law

– rence said. "The County looks forward to responding to the allegations with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission." The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discrim – inate against a job applicant or employee because of a person's race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. According to the EEOC website, most employers with at least 15 employees are covered by EEOC laws (20 employees in age discrimination cases). The laws apply to hiring, firing, pro – motions, harassment, training, wages and benefits. According to the website, the EEOC has the authority to investigate charges of dis –

crimination against employers who are cov

– ered by the law. "Our role in an investigation is to fairly and accurately assess the allegations in the charge and then make a finding," the web – site states. "If we find that discrimination has occurred, we will try to settle the charge. If we aren't successful, we have the authority to file a lawsuit to protect the rights of individu

– als and the interests of the public and litigate a small percentage of these cases." The EEOC considers strength of evidence, the issues in a case, and the wider impact the lawsuit could have on the EEOC's eorts to combat workplace discrimination, when de – ciding to file a lawsuit. Laws enforced by the EEOC (with the exception of the Equal Pay Act) require a person to file a charge of discrimination be – fore a job discrimination lawsuit can be filed against an employer. The EEOC is required by law to notify an employer if a charge has been filed against it. "Sadly and unlawfully, given their com – ments, Sheri Hove has been discriminated against, particularly based on her age and some false perception that she is disabled in some way, both of which are unlawful," said Borton via phone April 25. "This is an uncommon employment dispute, but no one should be pushed out of work once they bat –

tle cancer.

"The main goal is to bring light to the sit

– uation first. Two, would be to have the Board of Supervisors members who are engaging in this activity stop trying to run her department when she is fully capable of doing it." The Pierce County Journal will continue to follow this story as it develops.

May 3, 2022