HUNTINGTON – A woman is suing Cabell County Commission after she claims it discriminated against her because of her gender.

The Cabell County Sheriff's Department and Sheriff Thomas McComas were also named as defendants in the suit.

On May 12, 2011, the Cabell County Commission voted 2-1 to relinquish control of the court security officers to McComas and the Sheriff's Department, according to a complaint filed April 29 in Cabell Circuit Court.

Deanna Fouch claims following the vote, the defendants became primarily responsible for hiring court security officers and the Commission approved the hires through resolution at commission meetings.

Fouch claims she submitted an application to work as a court security officer with the defendants in June and, although the defendants were hiring at the time and she was qualified for the job, she was not interviewed or considered for the job because she is a female.

On June 30, two males were hired instead, according to the suit.

Fouch claims when she contacted the defendants about her application, she was informed she had been third on the list, but that there was a hiring freeze.

No hiring freeze was actually in place and the defendants continued to interview candidates, according to the suit.

Fouch claims the defendants conducted interviews of male candidates in August and September, even though the candidates had applied for the job after she had applied.

When Fouch learned that the defendants were conducting interviews, she contacted the defendants on Sept. 4, to inquire whether there was still a hiring freeze and was told that she would be contacted about an interview, according to the suit.

Fouch claims on Sept. 12, she had still not been contacted and she called back and was informed that McComas "had been swamped" and to call back, which she did the next day, when she was put off again.

On Sept. 22, Fouch called again and was told to come on Oct. 2 for an interview, according to the suit. The interview was later delayed until Oct. 9.

Fouch claims she was interviewed nearly four months after her application, and during the interview, she was informed that "if someone came into the courthouse, [she] would be the first person shot."

The plaintiff was contacted for a second interview, which she went to on Nov. 6, according to the suit.

Fouch claims when she arrived at the interview, she was requested to complete a new job application without explanation and was told the job position was for 16 to 22 hours per week and that no one was being hired until January.

Three other male candidates were also being interviewed that day and on Dec. 11, the three males were hired and Fouch was not hired at the time, despite successfully completing her physical, drug test and psychological test, according to the suit.

Fouch claims she was contacted on March 16 to report to work on March 18. She claims she worked two days without carrying a firearm and was informed then that she would have to qualify to carry a firearm before being able to return to work.

The defendants informed Fouch they would contact her when it was time for her to work again and to date, no one has contacted her, either to return to work or to notify her of firearms qualification, according to the suit.

Fouch claims the defendants have discriminated against her because she is female, which violates the West Virginia Human Rights Act.

Fouch is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by Maria W. Hughes and Mark Goldner of Hughes & Goldner PLLC.

The case is assigned to Circuit Judge F. Jane Hustead.

Cabell Circuit Court case number: 15-C-292

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