Woman sues Summit Bank for hostile work environment, discrimination

CHARLESTON -- A former employee is suing Summit Financial Group, Inc., after she claims she was subjected to a hostile work environment and discrimination during her employment.

Summit Community Bank, Inc. and Jared Burdette were also named as defendants in the suit.

Leisa Pauley was employed by the defendants from Sept. 22, 2008, until Feb. 15, 2011, according to a complaint filed Aug. 8 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Pauley claims she performed her job in an excellent manner, at one point ranking fifth in customer services in all of the defendants' locations in West Virginia.

During her employment, Pauley was subjected to a hostile work environment and disparate treatment because of her age, according to the suit.

Pauley claims the defendants had full knowledge of the fact that she was ridiculed, excluded and isolated based upon her age.

Younger employees referred to Pauley as "old as a dinosaur," "old lady," and "old as my grandma," according to the suit.

Pauley claims the defendants refused to give her specific vacation time she had requested to spend with her grandchildren and instead, Burdette informed her that the younger girls have children who need that time off due to school schedules.

The defendants also required Pauley to park farther away from the Southridge location while they assigned closer parking spaces to the younger employees and Pauley was not permitted to attend a seminar in which the younger employees were permitted to attend, according to the suit.

Pauley claims Burdette refused to allow her to attend a community walk for cancer awareness and informed her that the younger employees wanted to go, so she would have to work.

On Feb. 4, 2011, the younger girls at the Southridge location were playing on Facebook during working hours and the chatter online led to one of the girls becoming offended and crying in the bank, according to the suit, however, no disciplinary action of any kind was taken against any of the girls involved who had upset the other employee.

Pauley claims on Feb. 15, 2011, the defendants maliciously fired her from her employment, claiming she had engaged in gossip in the workplace that was upsetting to a younger co-worker.

Although Pauley denied the allegations, the defendants dismissed her explanation in favor of bias toward the younger employees and that she had "failed to handle a workplace dispute in a professional manner and that she would be unable to resume a productive working relationship with her co-workers," according to the suit.

Pauley is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by Maria W. Hughes and Mark Goldner.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 12-C-1588

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