Former employee sues Shoney's franchise for harassment

CHARLESTON -- A Fayette County woman and former employee is suing B&F Foods, Inc. after she claims she was harassed during her employment.

ShoRest 1102, LLC; John Watts; and Denise Biafore were also named as defendants in the suit.

B&F Foods, Inc. is doing business as Shoney's of Quincy.

Misty Prevatte began working for Shoney's in February 2005 and Watts was her supervisor, according to a complaint filed July 17 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Prevatte claims during her employment Watts would routinely rub her back, play with her hair and touch her neck, shoulders, hips and breasts.

Watts also would routinely make comments about female customers and would routinely zoom in with security cameras inside Shoney's on various body parts of female customers, according to the suit.

Prevatte claims Watts would make sexual comments to and/or about her, but she tolerated his sexual advances because Watts would give preferential treatment to those female servers who did.

In 2010, Prevatte confronted Watts and told him the comments and overtures were unwanted, but he continued, according to the suit.

Prevatte claims later that year she went to manager Shirley Dillard about the sexual harassment, who advised her she was attempting to handle the situation.

When Watts took over as general manager of the restaurant and Prevatte declined to engage in a sexual relationship with him, Watts decreased Prevatte's from $10 per hour to $8.25 per hour, according to the suit, and on several occasions, she was denied time off from work for obligations regarding her family and children, while other employees were granted entire weekends off for sports events.

Prevatte claims on May 31, 3011, she fell over some mats at work and injured her right knee, so she went to Urgent Care and was placed on light duty for one week.

When Prevatte took her light duty paperwork to Shoney's, she was informed that there was no light duty work for her and she could not return to work for one week, according to the suit.

Prevatte claims on June 7, 2011, she had a follow-up appointment and was released to work with a brace.

On July 25, 2011, one of Prevatte's co-workers came up behind her and intentionally kneed her in her injured knee, causing her to lose her balance and strike the floor with her injured knee and she was forced to seek medical attention as a result of the re-injury to her knee, according to the suit.

Prevatte claims she was placed on light duty work again, but was again told by Shoney's there was no light duty work for her to do.

After about two weeks off work, Prevatte received a letter from Biafore advising her that Shoney's had light duty work and she did not know why she was not working and when Prevatte spoke with Biafore, Biafore accused her of refusing to work and working under the table.

Prevatte claims Biafore spread rumors that she was guilty of welfare fraud, which resulted in delaying her workers' compensation benefits and as a result of the false statements, Prevatte was unable to make house payments, lost her home and was forced to move out of state to avoid becoming homeless.

The defendants improper and illegal conduct constituted sex discrimination and/or quid pro quo sexual harassment in violation of the West Virginia Human Rights Act, according to the suit.

Prevatte is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by Matthew S. Criswell, Mark L. French and Steven M. Condaras.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Carrie Webster.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 12-C-1393

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