The Nazareth Borough Police Association has filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the borough. The complaint claims retaliation against the union was behind the recent suspensions and demotion of Fred Lahovski, a five-year member of Nazareth's department.
At the recommendation of Mayor Fred Daugherty Jr., Police Chief Thomas Trachta informed Lahovski of his demotion from detective to patrolman on March 17. No reason, however, was given for the termination, according to the complaint.
Lahovski, who is also the part-time police chief in Forty Fort, Luzerne County, then received a 10-day suspension without pay in May after receiving two disciplinary notices. According to a report in The Express-Times, one notice concerned his handling of an arrest in October, the second concerned his ordering of fingerprinting equipment without council's approval.
An administrative interview was scheduled for April 3 with Nazareth Borough Council to discuss the disciplinary notices. And despite Lahovski’s objections, according to the complaint, the interview was recorded.
Lahovski, the police union’s president, held the assignment of detective since Jan. 30, 2009, according to the complaint, and performed his duties in a “satisfactory manner.”
As the union's president, Lahovski has advocated for the Nazareth Borough Police Association during past grievances, including a June 2011 grievance that found the borough violated the shift differential provision -- officers who work late shifts receive additional pay -- of about seven full-time officers’ contracts.
After the Jan. 8 decision on the shift differential grievance, according to the complaint, "...the Borough has changed the schedule of the officers, changed the manner in which vacations are scheduled and disciplined Fred Lahovski several times including a 30 day [sic] suspension."
“In terminating Fred Lahovski’s assignment and eliminating the position, the Borough was motivated by anti-union animus and acted to intimidate or coerce members in the exercise of rights protected by the [Pennsylvania Labor Relations Act],” the complaint states.
The complaint states that although the borough's actions were directed toward Lahovski, the union as a whole was the target of retaliation.
Thomas P. Leonard, a hearing examiner for the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, will hear the allegations in the unfair labor practice complaint on Nov. 7 in Harrisburg.