CHARLESTON - Charleston attorney Geoffrey I. Ekenasi filed suits on behalf of three Kanawha County women who claim they were fired because of their race.

Ekenasi filed suits May 22 in Kanawha Circuit Court on behalf of Joanne Foster, Francis Coles and Cassandra Woods-Jones. The suits name Beverly Enterprises of West Virginia Inc., doing business as Beverly Healthcare Center/Golden Living Center, as the defendant.

Foster was an employee of the company from August 1992 to October 2005 when she was fired. Francis Coles worked for Beverly from June 1998 to March 2007. Woods-Jones also worked for the company for several years.

According to the suit, the women, who are black, were subjected to numerous instances of discrimination based on their race. The women claim they were treated differently than other employees who were white.

The suits say the women were not allowed to take breaks in the same way white employees were, and could not take leave and enjoy other benefits.

The women also say they have been called names and treated to racial epithets and insulting slurs.

"At a point, (the women) had nowhere to turn and appeared helpless because management knew of the misconduct but would not act to stop the misconduct of the employer," the suits say.

The suits say the firings were a violation of the West Virginia Human Rights Act. Foster, Coles and Woods-Jones each seek punitive and compensatory damages.

Their cases have been assigned to Judge Irene Berger.

Kanawha Circuit Court case numbers 07-C-1004, 07-C-1005 and 07-C-1006

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