Former director of Fellowship Home says firing was discriminatory

By Chris Dickerson | Dec 15, 2005

CHARLESTON – The former director of the Kanawha Valley Fellowship Home claims her firing earlier this year was a form of discrimination.

CHARLESTON – The former director of the Kanawha Valley Fellowship Home claims her firing earlier this year was a form of discrimination.

Deborah Masinter was director of the home in the 1100 block of Virginia Street East in Charleston. The home "provides housing, counseling and other support services to people trying to become recovering alcoholics and productive members of society," according to Masinter's lawsuit filed Dec. 7 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

In the suit, Masinter says she was hired in September 1999 and never received a negative job evaluation during her time with the home. She says she received additional income, bonuses and other compensation during her time with the home.

In April 2005, the suit claims a classified ad in the Charleston Gazette sought applicants for the position of Executive Directive Director of the Fellowship House and that in February, Ken Stewart had applied for the position of Resident House Manager of the home. He was given the position of Executive Director.

Masinter claims Stewart was given the position because he is a white male affiliated with First Presbyterian Church, which owns the property. Masinter, the suit says, is a 53-year-old Jewish woman.

In the suit, filed by Andrew S. Nason of Pepper , Nason & Hayes, Masinter says the work environment became hostile. She says she feared losing her job, was subjected to intimidation, conflict and suggestions that she was unable to continue her job when the home increased in size.

Masinter says she believed she would not be allowed to continue her employment because "the defendant wished to employ a white Christian male in the position of Director of the organization that received substantial financial assistant from First Presbyterian Church."

In the suit, Masinter also alleges she was advised that she would not be working after the end of July because she did not apply for her position with the defendant. However, Masinter says she didn't believe she needed to apply for the position she had held since 1999 "without any adverse job performance."

Masinter claims the loss of her job has caused her humiliation, loss of income, loss of job-related benefits, annoyance and inconvenience.

She also points out that "West Virginia has a strong and well-stated public policy to prohibit discrimination based on sex, age or religion."

Masinter wants compensated for wrongful discharge and termination, including lost wages and benefits, compensation for annoyance and inconvenience, other damages permitted by law and further relief deemed just by the court.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Jim Stucky.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 05-C-2673

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