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Jackson County attorney resigns, citing high workload and low pay, alleging gender discrimination

Jackson County Attorney Tom Prochazka submitted his resignation to the Jackson County Board of Commissioners Tuesday, following disagreements over staffing, pay and caseload in the attorney's office. Assistant County Attorney Lynae Tucker had previously submitted her resignation on Dec. 27.

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Jackson County Attorney Tom Prochazka

JACKSON — Citing an untenable case load and a low pay rate, Jackson County Attorney Tom Prochazka resigned from his position Tuesday, with a volley of criticism for the county regarding gender discrimination and disregard for military experience.

"I started noting for everyone that this is not an 'I told you so.' It's actually an 'I'm done telling you so,'" Prochazka said, informing the board of his resignation, effective Feb. 2.

Assistant County Attorney Lynae Tucker had previously submitted her resignation on Dec. 27, with a two-week notice, meaning that if no action is taken, Jackson County will have no attorney in its attorney's office following Prochazka's departure.

The resignations followed a series of disagreements over pay rates, staffing levels and case loads in the county attorney's office, including a request from Prochazka for a raise of 36% as well as additional staffing that could help make the workload more manageable.

Prochazka had cited figures indicating the Jackson County attorney was the third lowest-paid county attorney in Minnesota. He also said he had agreed to an initial pay reduction that would allow the county to pay for outsourcing a civil commitment case, and had not believed that cut would continue after the commitment case ended.

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Commissioners voted Dec. 21 to give Prochazka a 6.7% raise for a total salary of $105,497.60, and also agreed to hire a full-time victim services coordinator for the county attorney's office.

Throughout the discussion over multiple meetings, commissioners expressed frustration with the tension between Prochazka and Jackson County Administrator Ryan Krosch, and in a Dec. 9 meeting, Krosch said Prochazka was "trying to get me out of here for no good reason."

At that meeting, commissioners told the two to work together.

"Commissioner, I remember on Dec. 9 you said I have to work with the administrator, and that got me to thinking: no, I don't," Prochazka said at Tuesday's meeting. "I refuse to voluntarily associate myself in any way, shape or form with someone who discriminates amongst qualified candidates on the basis of their gender."

Prochazka said he felt that both Krosch and Commissioners Scott McClure and Cathy Hohenstein had discounted his experience as an attorney with the military.

"Coming mere days after I stood under a volley of 21 guns watching our nation's colors get folded 13 times as we laid my uncle to rest, that disregard for the military experience hit home for me, but I bit my lip," Prochazka said.

On Tuesday's agenda, he requested the board approve immediately advertising the open assistant county attorney position at a grade 22 salary of $90,005.92 to $117,022.70, but commissioners instead made a motion to advertise the position at a grade 19 rate. Krosch indicated that a compensation study on county positions was underway but incomplete, but that market data indicated the assistant county attorney position was "right on market."

Prochazka then distributed his resignation, and commissioners voted to approve the open assistant county attorney position at a grade 19 salary.

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"Hopefully you can find someone who is willing to tolerate gender discrimination while working a high case load here for (the) low rates that Jackson County is willing to pay," Prochazka said. "I wish my successor all the best of luck navigating those and other issues."

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
A 1999 graduate of Jackson County Central and a 2003 graduate of Augsburg College, Kari Lucin started writing for newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota in 2006. During her time as a reporter, she covered beats including education, watershed, county and agriculture, and frequently wrote about health and science. She has also served as an online content coordinator and an engagement specialist at various Forum Communications properties. She was a marketing assistant at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville for two years, where she did design work in addition to writing and social media management.

Lucin is currently a community editor with the Globe of Worthington.

Email: klucin@dglobe.com
Phone: (507) 376-7319
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