in the sectionOur areas of practice

Civil Rights Case Summaries

At Schemery Zicolello, we believe protecting Civil Rights to be a calling. Civil Rights are important to all of us. These are rights that are intended to protect us from the intentional conduct or deliberate indifference of government officials regardless of our race, religion, or wealth. Not many law firms practice in this area of the law, and we have utilized our expertise to help clients throughout Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic region. We recently had the opportunity to take up the cause for a family of a young man in Federal Court in New York State. Mike and Amy were hired by the family of a young man named Vincent after he tragically committed suicide while incarcerated at Sullivan County Jail in New York State. Sadly, Vincent battled drug addiction most of his adult life. He was not married and had no children, but his siblings had done all that was in their power to help him. Like many family members who have a loved one suffering from addiction, when Vincent was arrested in Sullivan County, NY, his family thought he was safe, and that having "hit bottom" he could start to get his life in order.

However, like many people facing some jail time, Vincent was suicidal upon his intake at the Jail and his mental state was such that he required suicide watch throughout the entirety his incarceration. Despite a prior unsuccessful suicide attempt and while supposedly on a "suicide watch" directed by the jail psychiatrist, Vincent committed suicide by draping a blanket over the front of his cell, fashioning a noose out of a sheet and a shoe string, affixing it to a steel hook on the back wall of his cell, placing it around his neck, and asphyxiating himself using his own weight while on his bed. Even more shocking is that another inmate committed suicide in the same manner and using the same hook just months prior and the jail administration made the decision not to remove the steel hooks from the cells of inmates on suicide watch. Mike and Amy helped Vincent's family raise awareness of the importance of proper suicide watch and medical care in an extremely old and outdated county prison. They fought vigorously to obtain a settlement in the amount of $375,000 for Vincent's Estate and were able to reveal to the family the county's plans to build a new jail with better safeguards to hopefully prevent future tragedies for families such as theirs.

Schemery Zicolello represented a female county solicitor in federal claims for retaliation and sexual harassment against a county and county officials. The solicitor had reported several incidents of misconduct and wrongdoing with respect to a county official. The same county official also continuously engaged in conduct intended to harass and intimidate women in the workplace, which included screaming and throwing objects at the solicitor, discussing the solicitor's personal life with others, making sexually explicit and inappropriate comments, speaking publicly about his desire for the solicitor to resign, and ultimately wrongfully terminating her. We successfully obtained a settlement of $185,000 for the solicitor.

Represented a female employee in a state retaliation claim against a nonprofit employer. Our client was terminated after she opposed and reported several incidents of sexual harassment by an individual performing work at the workplace. Successfully obtained settlement on behalf of plaintiff. (confidentiality agreement)

Represented a female employee in a retaliation claim against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Our client was suspended and terminated after she complained of sexual harassment and a hostile work environment at the hands of her supervisors. Some of the reported conduct included unwelcomed emails and statements of a sexual nature, screaming at and belittling our client in front of others, throwing objects at her, locking her out of areas from which she needed to perform her job, and following her around. Our client was returned to her job, reimbursed for wages and benefits, and also received a monetary settlement.