April 1, 2023

Eastern sued

Two USU Eastern associate professors and two adjuncts are suing the university, its chancellor, Carbon County’s attorney’s office and county prosecutor after allegedly giving Price City Mayor preferential treatment after the mayor’s tirade over his 22-year-old-daughter’s grade in an incident on Dec. 3, 2014.
The four women: Debbie Prichard, Linda Davis, Marlayne Gordon and Lisa Critchlow filed a complaint on Jan. 25 accusing USU Eastern of not securing the workplace environment. The professors wanted Mayor Joe Piccolo banned from campus and he was only banned from entering the building their classrooms were in.Their complaint is backed by the USU Policy Manual.
According to USU policy manual 337.2, concerning workplace violence, “Threats or acts of violence, bodily harm, or physical intimidation by employees will not be tolerated and may be grounds for immediate dismissal. When this type of behavior is exhibited, the University reserves the right to request an evaluation by a health care/mental health professional to determine fitness for duty. Likewise, threats or intimidation of employees in the workplace by individuals outside the University will not be tolerated.”
The allegations against Piccolo, according to court documents, describe him as launching into a verbal tirade in response to a grade that was given to his daughter who was a student in the cosmetology program. His behavior terrified an entire class of female students who were huddled in the corner. His tirade ended when police officer Lynn Archuleta arrived and threatened to arrest Piccolo if he did not leave.
They filed a case against the mayor in the Seventh District Court. Carbon County Judge Jon Carpenter recused himself and Emery County Justice Court Judge Steven Stream oversaw the case.
Steam rejected a plea deal on behalf of Piccolo after listening to arguments from the professors’ attorney and counsel from Utah Crime Victim’s League, he sent the case back to the Carbon County Attorney’s Office, which declined to re-file a disorderly conduct charge, ending the criminal case.
Thus the four faculty members filed suit contending the county attorney’s office and John Schindler failed to act upon adequate probable cause, failing to charge Piccolo with the crime supported by the cause.
USU Eastern Chancellor Joe Peterson is named for not protecting the four women from Piccolo, because he indicated that “he would not get in the middle of it” because he was working on a $4 million project with Price City and doing anything against the mayor would endanger the project.
According to courthousenews.com, the professors took the action “as a last resort,” their attorney Lauren Scholnick said, “after attempting to work for over a year with both their employer and local law enforcement to ensure their protection and that of all USUE students, staff and faculty after Mr. Piccolo’s attack.”
Had USUE and the prosecutor carried out their duties as public servants, our clients would not have been compelled to take this action,” Scholnick added. “Their pleas for both the chancellor and Mr. Schindler to do their duty fell on deaf ears.”
Each professor seeks $100,000 in damages for breach of contract and civil-rights violations.

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