HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania Senate officials fired a longtime security officer on Friday, six months after she filed a lawsuit claiming they tolerate a culture of sexual harassment inside the Capitol.
Senate officials said they have a lengthy record of policy violations to support the firing of Sue Salov, who worked for the chamber for more than 25 years.
“She was terminated because over the course of the last 12 to 18 months, her conduct has been quite problematic in the Senate,” said Drew Crompton, the Senate’s top attorney.
Crompton said Senate officials have a “binder full” of documents showing that Salov violated Senate rules or policy. He would not detail the violations or provide copies of the documents, citing Senate rules pertaining to personnel matters and Salov’s pending lawsuit.
Salov declined comment. Her attorney, Wayne Ely, said he disputes portions of the Senate’s account.
“I really don’t want to litigate this case in the press,” Ely said, “but I take issue with the Senate’s position, and I believe it’s unwise for them to be discussing Ms. Salov in a public forum. Beyond that, I would say, ‘Watch the case for further developments.’”
The Senate’s handling of Salov’s case has raised questions about how the chamber treats people who bring sexual harassment claims. It’s also likely to add more drama to her civil case.
Jennifer Storm, the state’s victim advocate, said that it is difficult to analyze the case without seeing Salov’s full record, but that her firing feels retaliatory. “It sends a chilling message that if you come forward, you will lose your job,” Storm said.
Crompton denied that assessment.
“We would never retaliate against an individual who files a harassment claim,” he said. “We don’t do it. We don’t even entertain the idea.”
He described the matter as a “very difficult case” and said the Senate tried to reach a settlement with Salov, whose yearly salary was about $65,000, but the sides were not able to agree. At some point, the Senate offered her a different position, which she declined.
Salov alleges Senate officials began retaliating against her after she complained in late 2017 that her then-supervisor, Justin Ferrante, who served as the Senate’s director of security, had sexually harassed her.
In court records and other documents, Salov contends that Ferrante texted her inappropriate graphics and cartoons and a picture of male genitalia.
Ferrante has also been accused of harassing another former Senate employee, Keah Tingler, who worked as a receptionist in the security office. In her own federal discrimination lawsuit, Tingler alleges that Ferrante on multiple occasions sent her photos of feces during work hours.
Ferrante resigned amid an investigation into the claims. In court documents, he has denied the allegations.
The Senate also denied wrongdoing and quietly agreed to pay Ferrante’s legal bills.