HUNTINGTON - A former licensed practical nurse is suing St. Mary's Medical Center for discriminating against her because of her age and gender.

In 2010, Sharon Smith became employed by SMMC as a licensed practical nurse and on Jan. 30, 2012, she was advised by the defendant that she was the subject of an investigation into her actions responding to a patient and the manner in which she failed to respond, according to a complaint filed May 21 in Cabell Circuit Court.

Smith claims the defendant stated that she had reportedly failed to provide a satisfactory job performance and/or follow proper procedures; had engaged in conduct and actions which "jeopardized patient care" and/or "constituted gross misconduct;" and was the subject of prior patient complaints, which were documented, proven and/or reportedly addressed with her.

The defendant further advised Smith that her employment was being terminated because her actions made it "abundantly clear that [St. Mary's had] more than sufficient cause to terminate [Plaintiff's] employment," despite that such statements were false and contrary to the available facts surrounding the complaint, according to the suit.

Smith claims the defendant forwarded the unsubstantiated and unsustainable allegations to the Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses, which caused the Board to investigate her.

The false accusations were made to intimidate, ridicule and insult Smith, with the final result being the termination of her employment with the defendant, according to the suit.

Smith claims the defendant, who was not the nurse assigned to the patient, was discharged, which the nurse assigned to the patient, who was younger and less experienced than Smith, received no disciplinary action.

St. Mary's actually terminated Smith's employment because of her age and caused her to suffer severe emotional and mental distress; humiliation; anxiety; embarrassment and aggravation; annoyance and inconvenience; loss of income and financial security; and monetary damages, according to the suit.

Smith claims the defendant's actions were designed to intentionally cause her humiliation and emotional distress.

St. Mary's also terminated Smith's employment based on her gender, which is a violation of the West Virginia Human Rights Act, according to the suit.

Smith is seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. She is being represented by Jeff C. Woods of the Law Office of Jeff C. Woods.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge David M. Pancake.

Cabell Circuit Court case number: 13-C-347

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