Woman claims she was wrongfully fired by U.S. Foodservice

CHARLESTON - A Kanawha County woman has filed a suit against her former employer, claiming she was wrongfully fired. Barbara Brown filed a suit Aug. 17 in Kanawha Circuit Court against U.S. Foodservice Inc. and Russell Bailey, Brown's supervisor. According to the suit, Brown was hired in 1995 as the Human Resources Manager. Her title was changed in 2000 to Vice President of Human Resources. In 2007, Brown claims she began an investigation to determine if expenses from a trip were taxable. Brown claims in the suit that after consulting with various people, she determined the expenses were indeed taxable. "As a result, documents were sent to the various employees involved addressing the taxability of the trip and the amount of money that would have to be deducted from each employee's paycheck to cover the taxes," the suit said. The forms had to be signed and returned by April 28 for the deduction to be entered, the suit said. Brown claims that during a conference in North Carolina, on May 2, 2007, Nicole Whitten told her that she would be written up for not fully investigating an earlier employee complaint. According to the suit, this was the first indication Brown had regarding any criticism of her work. After she returned from the conference, Brown claims she discovered trips in the past had not been taxed. She claims she notified Bailey, who told her to contact Whitten. According to the suit, Whitten said the right thing to do was issue a corrected W-2 form for each individual. Brown claims when she told Bailey, he "covered his face and suggested the matters should be discussed in the senior staff meeting the next day," the suit says. According to the suit, on May 22, 2007, Brown was told she was being fired for failing to process a termination check within 72 hours in 2006, for payroll errors that occurred in 2006, for not fully investigating an employee complaint and for not being accessible to employees. Brown claims that being fired one day after informing Bailey of the taxability of the earlier trips "clearly" shows the reasons given by Bailey were a pretense to the real reason Brown was fired. Brown claims that because of her termination, she has suffered several damages, including the loss of lost wages, and other financial incentives including bonuses and 401k contributions, as well as annoyance and inconvenience, embarrassment, humiliation, emotional distress and expenses. Brown, through attorney Lonnie C. Simmons, seeks compensatory and punitive damages. The case has been assigned to Judge James Stucky. Kanawha Circuit Court case number 07-C-1733

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