Woman sues St. Albans Municipal Utility Commission for wrongful termination

By Kyla Asbury | Dec 24, 2013

CHARLESTON - A woman is suing the St. Albans Municipal Utility Commission after she claims her employment was wrongfully terminated.

The City of St. Albans, the Hon. Richard Callaway and Andrew Hale were also named as defendants in the suit.

Anna Jean Melton was hired as water plant chief operator in 1997 and was the only female performing duties in the plant and the only female supervisor performing duties at the plant, according to a complaint filed Dec. 6 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Melton claims she excelled at her job and was recognized on multiple occasions for the unmatched quality of her work in the water treatment plant.

In July 2012, Hale went to St. Albans MUC, seeking a position as an operator in the water treatment plant and, at the time, there was no posted MUC vacancies for a water treatment plant operator, according to the suit,

Melton claims Pat Priddy, a clerical administrator at the MUC interviewed Hale for a position in the water treatment plant while knowing there were no posted vacancies at, at the time, Priddy had no official managerial or supervisory authority over water treatment plant operations or over water treatment plant hiring processes.

In August 2012, during the MUC board meeting, Callaway asked Melton if she needed another operator at the water treatment plant and she replied that she was fully staffed and did not need another operator, according to the suit.

Melton claims even though there were no posted vacancies in the water treatment plant, Callaway authorized Hale to interview for an operator position in the water treatment plant and she was not consulted before Callaway decided to add another operator to the water treatment plant staff.

Hale was the only person interviewed for the position, in violation of city and/or MUC policy and procedure and Melton and two other department heads were tasked to interview him, according to the suit.

Melton claims Hale performed poorly during the interview and she expressed reservations about his fitness and qualifications for employment and, despite these concerns, Callaway authorized the Hale's hiring.

After Hale was hired and started working, Melton developed and instituted a training plan for him, according to the suit.

Melton claims in November 2012, Hale "began to conduct illegal oral surveillance" of the plaintiff and co-workers and Melton reported in a letter to her supervisor that Hale's performance was sub-standard, but no action was taken in response to her report.

In November 2012, Melton counseled Hale due to his refusal to comply with written instructions she had provided for him regarding the safe and efficient operation of the water treatment plant, according to the suit.

Melton claims following the counseling, Hale reported that she had threatened him bodily harm, even though she did not.

On Dec. 5, 2012, Melton's employment was terminated, according to the suit.

Melton is seeking reinstatement and compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by Thomas G. Wilson of Wilson Law Offices PLLC.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge James C. Stucky.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 13-C-2266

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