CHARLESTON -– The former chief financial officer of beBetter Networks claims racial harassment cost him his job.
In January, Melvin Jones sued beBetter and his former supervisor, Ralph Gaines, in Kanawha Circuit Court. He sought reinstatement, back pay, front pay, costs, fees and punitive damages.
Jones' lawyer, Katherine Dooley of Charleston, wrote that Gaines subjected Jones to ridicule and disparaging comments.
Dooley wrote that Gaines told Jones, "Get your ass to Morgantown."
"Mr. Gaines did not treat Caucasian employees with the same disrespect," Dooley wrote, adding that Jones earned a master's degree in business administration from the University of Southern Alabama in 1979.
She wrote that he became a certified public accountant in 1989, and he worked at beBetter from 2005 to 2008, as comptroller, vice president and chief financial officer.
The last position included responsibility for human resources, she wrote, but Gaines relieved him of that responsibility.
She wrote that Gaines told Jones he didn't believe in affirmative action. She wrote that Jones recommended African American job candidates that beBetter refused to hire.
For beBetter, Charles Woody of Spilman, Thomas and Battle in Charleston answered on Feb. 12 that, "No racial remarks are identified in the complaint."
Woody wrote that Jones hired and terminated African American employees.
He wrote that beBetter protected its interest and the public interest by firing Jones for "outrageous, threatening and intimidating acts."
He wrote that Jones yelled, screamed and placed Gaines in apprehension of injury. He wrote that Gaines seeks damages from Jones, including punitive damages.
He accused Jones of malicious prosecution.
He wrote that Jones continues to serve on the Clay Center board, showing that his termination didn't damage his good name.
He wrote that beBetter still hires African Americans.