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Greenlee County Economic Development Coordinator Akos Kovach

Greenlee County Economic Development Coordinator Akos Kovach has filed a claim against the county alleging age discrimination and is seeking $625,000.

Kovach, who still works for the county, alleges in the claim that County Administrator Derek Rapier has been subjecting Kovach, 70, and other county employees to “an age-related hostile and intimidating work environment” since Aug. 1, 2019.

A claim is often a precursor to a lawsuit.

The Greenlee County Board of Supervisors met Nov. 4 and discussed the claim in executive session.

After the meeting, Rapier said, “Because Mr. Kovach has threatened litigation, Greenlee County is not at liberty to comment on or discuss pending legal matters.”

In the claim, Kovach alleges Rapier has made “repeated and pointed age-related derogatory remarks” and repeatedly asked him when he plans to retire.

Kovach, who joined the county in 2014, further alleges Rapier has written him up because of his age, not because he has acted improperly.

In addition, Kovach said Rapier has prevented him from speaking at Board of Supervisor meetings and undermined his work, the claim states.

Moreover, Kovach alleges Rapier has chastised and harassed him in public and made “spurious claims” that have damaged his professional reputation.

One other older employee retired rather than be subjected to Rapier’s hostility, the claim states.

Kovach said that as a result of Rapier’s actions, he has lost his appetite, suffers sleepless nights, lacks self-esteem and has other symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome.

In a brief interview last week, Kovach said he didn’t file the claim merely for himself.

“We’re all supposed to step up when needed and I think this is needed,” Kovach said. “With every fiber of my being I want to be a part of positive change and this claim is a part of that.”

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