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GREENSBURG (KDKA) — An investigation is underway into an employee in the Westmoreland County sheriff’s department.

County commissioners have signed off on an investigation into the chief deputy after three people filed discrimination complaints.

In a letter from the Westmoreland County commissioners dated Feb. 9, Sheriff Jonathan Held was informed that a possible civil rights lawsuit is being explored by two individuals who alleged that they were not hired by the sheriff’s department because they were African-American.

A third individual, who is also African-American, alleges that he was discriminated against due to his race while employed as a deputy with the sheriff’s department.

In each case, the allegations were raised against Chief Deputy Patricia Fritz.

Later in the letter, the commissioners ask Sheriff Held to indefinitely suspend Chief Deputy Fritz without pay pending the outcome of the investigation.

Sheriff Held met with reporters Monday and said suspending Fritz isn’t going to happen because she claims she’s been sexually harassed by an assistant county solicitor and needs to take time off.

“The investigation is involving sexual harassment with my chief deputy, who is the first and only female chief deputy sheriff of Westmoreland County. She had a meeting with a male member of the solicitor’s office last Wednesday in a closed room by themselves,” Held said. “She’s alleging inappropriate conduct, inappropriate physical contact. She is very severely mentally distraught to the point where she is taking off indefinitely now, and it’s my understanding she is filing with the EEOC and the PHRC complaints with each of those organizations.”

Held wants an investigation into those allegations, but he doesn’t want the commissioners to play a role. He wants a third party.

Westmoreland County Commissioner Ted Kopas said he cannot speak to these issues because they’re dealing with personnel matters.

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