WILLIAMSPORT — A Watsontown man has filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging age discrimination and a violation of the Whistleblower Act against the Union County Conservation District (UCCD).

Eric Ernst, who worked for the conservation district since 1989, was notified via letter in April of his termination, when he was 57 years of age.

Court papers indicate Ernst is seeking compensatory damages, back pay and reinstatement. Ernst is represented by McQuaide Blasko Inc., of State College.

Papers filed in federal court, Middle District of Pennsylvania, allege the county terminated his employment due to insubordination. Ernst alleges UCCD officials told him he should retire dating back to 2019 and that his job duties and responsibilities were given to someone younger than Ernst.

In March, Ernst reported to his superior that permits were being improperly processed and that there was no managerial oversight on numerous permits over two years, according to court papers. Ernst alleges retaliation for his reporting of these incidents.

Ernst alleges the county’s unlawful retaliation caused him loss of earnings, loss of future earning power and since has suffered emotional distress and humiliation.

The filing in federal court includes a copy of the termination letter sent to Ernst by the county and signed by commissioners Preston Boop, Jeff Reber and Stacy Richards.

In that letter, the county asserts Ernst “refused multiple times to meet with your immediate department director to discuss a work-related matter. Your continued refusal to meet with your immediate department director led to verbally assaulting him.”

Chris Brady is managing editor at The Standard-Journal and can be reached at chris@standard-journal.com.

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