Woman again claming gender discrimination

By John O'Brien | Apr 18, 2006

CHARLESTON - A woman who was previously awarded a settlement over gender discrimination charges is alleging that her severance payment from BB&T was half the amount male employees received.

Bernice Deem says in a lawsuit filed April 13 in Kanawha Circuit Court that a severance payment received when One Valley Bancorp was purchased by BB&T isn't enough.

She also lists Phyllis Arnold, a bank employee, as a defendant.

"Arnold participated in and approved of all actions of defendant BB&T… knowing that said actions were in violation of BB&T's contractual obligation to Plaintiff," the complaint says.

Walt Auvil of Parkersburg law firm Rusen and Auvil is representing Deem.

Deem's original settlement reached in 1998 with One Valley stipulated that she would receive more than $4,000 per month for 104 months, but the obligation would cease if One Valley were to be merged with or acquired by another institution resulting in a change of control.

However, Deem was entitled to any severance compensation which is paid to all other employees in the event of a change of control.

When BB&T acquired One Valley, it sent severance checks to One Valley employees.

Deem says she sent hers back after learning that male employees received a severance amount determined by a different formula "resulting in approximately twice the severance payment" that she received.

Judge Louis Bloom has been assigned the case.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-678

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