CHARLESTON – A Kanawha County man has filed suit against Wachovia, claiming he was demoted from his job as senior vice president/complex manager for the company's Charleston complex because of his age.
Brandon L. Edmondson, 49, alleges he was not rehired for the position because the company hired a less qualified 32-year-old man named Rich Charette.
"Using age as a motivating factor, Defendants subjected Mr. Edmondson to adverse employment actions," the original suit filed Oct. 9 in Kanawha Circuit Court states. "But for his age, Mr. Edmondson would not have been subjected to such adverse employment actions."
Edmondson had worked as a financial adviser at the company for 18 years before he became the senior vice president/complex manager, according to the complaint.
His job as complex manager required Edmondson to lead quality performance, growth and financial success in the marketplace, the suit states.
Edmondson claims he exceeded his job expectations, managing the Wheeling Complex when he was asked to in addition to the Charleston complex.
"Indeed, when the Company needed help, Mr.. Edmondson never hesitated to step in to provide his capable assistance," the suit states.
But after all his work, Wachovia "decided to terminate Mr. Edmondson as Complex Manager and replace him with a Complex Manager 17 years younger," the suit states.
Edmondson noticed an internal company posting for his position in April and immediately applied for the job, according to the complaint.
He interviewed for it the week of April 16, but later found out Charette already had been told he had the job.
"Mr. Charette had minimal relevant experience and no meaningful business contacts in the Charleston area," the suit states.
After Wachovia hired Charette, it told Edmondson on May 18 he could either accept a demotion to a non-management, entry-level broker position with decreasing commission rates in 12 months or he could resign his employment or he could resign his employment and surrender all legal rights, according to the complaint.
Edmondson chose the first of his options "rather than resign his employment and be unemployed," he claims.
Because of the discrimination, Edmondson claims he is entitled to protection under the West Virginia Human Rights Act, which prohibits age discrimination.
"Defendants treated similarly situated individuals under the age of 40 and/or 'substantially younger' individuals more favorably than Mr. Edmondson," the suit states.
Wachovia's actions were intentional, willful, reckless and malicious, according to the complaint.
"Each of the reasons offered by the Defendants as to why Mr. Edmondson was treated in this fashion is pretest masking their specific intent to discriminate against Mr. Edmondson because of his age," the suit states.
Edmondson is seeking unspecified past and future economic and non-economic damages, back pay, front pay, lost benefits, reinstatement/re-employment, promotion, unspecified punitive damages, interest and all attorneys' fees, expert fees and costs, plus any other relief the court deems appropriate.
At Wachovia's request, the case has been moved to federal court because Edmondson is seeking more than $75,000 and because Edmondson and Wachovia are residents of different states.
Wachovia is being represented by Michael S. Mitchell of Fisher and Phillips in New Orleans.
Edmondson is being represented by Andrew B. Cooke of Flaherty, Sensabugh and Bonasso of Charleston and Richard C. Haber of Haber Polk in Cleveland.
U.S. District Court case number: 2:08-1272