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Former assistant solicitor sues Northampton County

By 69 News, follow: @69news, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Feb 19 2014 10:27:19 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 20 2014 12:01:07 PM CST
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BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

A former Northampton County assistant solicitor is suing the county for wrongful termination, and her lawyer says it's because she wasn't a member of the same political party as the new county executive.

Jill Mancini, one of two former full-time solicitors for the county, lost her job after the new solicitor, Victor Scomillio, "reorganized" the office making both positions part time.

Mancini, through her attorney Patrick J. Reilly, stated that her position was designated as a "career service position" and as such could not be eliminated without due process.

Reilly said Mancini was informed of her termination by a letter, which was sent barely two days before Christmas.  Her last day was Jan. 7.

Email discussions back and forth between authorities in 2007, when Mancini was hired, show that county authorities did designate the full time assistant solicitor position as a career service position and not an exempt position.

As a "career service position", she wasn't allowed to be fired because of her political affiliation. She's a Democrat. New County Executive John Brown is a Republican.

However, another exhibit also showed that the county reserved the right to reorganize if a reduction in force was necessary for economic reasons, increase efficiency or other related reasons.

Mancini, in her suit, also claimed the new solicitor Scomillio did not have the authority to reorganize the office when he did because he had not even been sworn into office yet at the time; nor had Brown.

That reorganization, Mancini claims, should have been the job of the former solicitor.

Mancini also alleged that both her retrenchment and Victor Scomillio's appointment were politically motivated as another exhibit showed Mancini might have contributed to former mayor John Callahan's campaign.

Callahan and Brown faced-off in the last mayoral election.

Brown and Scomillio are named as co-defendants in the suit.

The county's "reduction in force and recall" policy also seeks to mitigate the effects on employees whose positions have been cut.

However, Mancini was not offered one of the two new part-time positions.

She is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.

Brown said he could not comment on pending litigation.