CHARLESTON - A former employee at a local restaurant filed a suit against the restaurant and her former supervisor, claiming they are in violation of the West Virginia Human Rights Act by allowing a hostile work environment.

Trina Ziegler filed a suit Jan. 31 in Kanawha Circuit Court against Almost Heaven Ribs, also known as Famous Dave's. The suit also names Daniel Bowles as a defendant.

According to the suit, Ziegler claims Bowles is a sexual predator and was fired because she would not accept his sexual advances.

Ziegler started working at Famous Dave's on Oct. 1, 2006. At the time of her hire, Bowles was, and still is, the general manager of the South Charleston location.

According to the suit, Bowles previously was the general manager of Outback Steakhouse in Charleston, but was fired after it was discovered he had sexually harassed several female employees.

Seven lawsuits were filed in the Kanawha Circuit Court in 2003 and 2004 against Bowles after he allegedly exposed himself to several female employees.

Ziegler claims Bowles inappropriately touched her, exposed his genitalia to her and would often brag about the size of his penis. According to the suit, Bowles would come to work smelling of alcohol.

Ziegler claims she grew weary of his advances, but Bowles did not stop.

According to the suit, Bowles allowed Ziegler to take home food for herself and her five children, "presumable to entice the plaintiff to enter into a sexual relationship with Bowles and to encourage the plaintiff not to report Bowles' illegal conduct."

In October 2007, Ziegler sought legal advice on her situation with Bowles. According to the suit, he found out and Ziegler was fired for allegedly taking food from the restaurant without permission.

"In a subsequent proceeding before the WorkForce West Virginia Board of Review, it was determined that the plaintiff has permission to remove food from the restaurant, and that the plaintiff was terminated for some reason other than misconduct," the suit says.

In the nine-count suit, Ziegler seeks pay for the last 72 hours she worked, plus punitive and compensatory damages for the injuries she suffered.

Attorney Mark L. French is representing Ziegler. The case has been assigned to Judge Irene Berger.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 08-C-215

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