Former directors at Mason Co. hospital say they were fired for being gay

POINT PLEASANT – The former human resources and marketing directors for a Mason County hospital allege they were terminated from their positions by the hospital's board of trustees on account of their sexuality.

Pleasant Valley Hospital is named in a wrongful termination suit by Terri Greenwald-Hill and Amy Leach in Mason Circuit Court. In their complaint filed Nov. 28, Greenwald-Hill, 43, of Mineral Wells, and Leach, 43, of Point Pleasant, allege PVH violated the state Human Rights Act when the board fired them earlier this year because of their sexual orientation.

According to their suit, Greenwald-Hill and Leach allege they were fired by the board as the hospital's human resources and marketing directors, respectively, for unspecified reasons. However, they maintain the "true reason" for the Board's decision was "because they are lesbian, because [the board] perceived them to be lesbians and/or they do not conform to traditional sex or gender stereotypes acceptable to [the] Board members."

The suit does not specify when the board fired them. However, they maintain it was done under the direction of William Barker, the vice-president for business development, and Thomas Schauer, PVH's chief executive and financial officer, who were "involved in, conspired, aided and abetted and participated in the decision."

After becoming PVH's CFO in 1997, Schauer was appointed interim CEO in February following the abrupt departure of former CEO Hugh Collins. The board formally hired him as CEO in September.

The reason for Collins' departure after only four months on the job remains unclear. In February, Leach, whose duties as marketing director included acting as spokeswoman, was quoted in The Point Pleasant Register that the hospital had "no comment other than [he] is no longer CEO."

However, the suit makes a veiled reference to Collins' departure. In it, Greenwald-Hill, and Leach say, despite a work history of little or no misconduct, they were fired while "[m]isconduct by PVH male employees and certain male Board Members did not result in termination of either employees or Board members."

Along with Barker and Schauer, the PVH's 19-member board -– Peter Allinder, Alex Scott Barnitz, Mike Bartram, Annette Boyles, Dorsel Keefer, William Knight, former state Sen. Charles Lanham, Mario Liberatore, Dr. Jack Buxton, Clayton Faber, Dr. Stephen Rerych, Dr. Randall Hawkins, C. Dallas Kayser, Michael Lieving, Dr. James Lockhart, James Rossi, R. Michael Shaw, William Tatterson and Lannes Williamson -– are named as co-defendants in the suit. Greenwald-Hill, and Leach allege the Board's action caused them to incur "lost wages and benefits, out-of-pocket losses, emotional and mental distress, humiliation, anxiety, embarrassment, aggravation, annoyance and inconvenience."

It remains unclear where Greenwald-Hill is working since her termination from PHV. However, Leach became the marketing and public relations director of Blanchard Valley Health Systems in Findlay, Ohio, in June.

Greenwald-Hill and Leach seek unspecified damages, including front and back pay, attorney fees, court costs and a court order reinstating them to her jobs. They are represented by Walt Auvil with the Parkersburg law firm of Rusen and Auvil.

The case is assigned to Judge David W. Nibert.

Mason Circuit Court case number 11-C-136

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