July 19th, 2024

Pennsylvania governor’s office settles for $295K a former staffer’s claim senior aide harassed her

By Brooke Schultz, The Associated Press on October 20, 2023.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – After a top aide to Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro was accused of sexual harassment earlier this year, the governor’s office settled with the complainant for $295K last month, according to documents released by the administration Friday through an open records request.

The settlement, reached Sept. 5, stems from allegations made by a coworker against Mike Vereb, who served as Shapiro’s secretary of legislative affairs until his resignation in September. The woman, who started in her role not long after Shapiro was taking office, wrote in a complaint earlier this year that Vereb made lewd, misogynistic remarks and she was retaliated against when she spoke up.

Her attorney, Charles Pascal, confirmed the settlement, which provided $196,365 to the woman and $49,517 to both law firms she had hired to represent her through this process. He declined further comment.

A spokesperson for the governor declined further comment due to the agreement reached in the settlement.

Shapiro has largely declined to comment on the allegations and Vereb’s resignation, and drew blowback from legislators when he told reporters to “consider the source” when asked about concerns about Vereb remaining employed for months despite the allegations, raised by Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Shapiro also met with all the women Democratic senators as the allegations unfolded.

Vereb was accused in the woman’s complaint to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission of subjecting her to lewd, misogynistic and unwanted sexual advances during her brief stint working in the governor’s administration.

A former state lawmaker, Vereb worked closely with Shapiro when he was attorney general. After the Democrat won the governor’s post, Verb assumed the role of shepherding the governor’s agenda through the politically divided Legislature.

The woman was offered a position in the governor’s administration about the time Shapiro was taking office in January and resigned in March after she brought forth concerns over Vereb’s behavior, according to her commission complaint. She said the governor’s office did not remedy the situation or protect her from retaliation.

Vereb, a Republican, is a former Montgomery County police officer who was elected to the state Legislature in 2007 and served five terms. He served alongside Shapiro when he also was a Montgomery county state representative. In 2017, Vereb went to work for the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General under Shapiro.

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