MARTINSBURG - A Berkeley Springs woman formerly employed by the Berkeley County Assessor's Office says Assessor Preston Gooden told her that because he is an elected official he doesn't have to follow the law.
Dorothy Martin also says she was unfairly fired by Gooden because of a dispute over the Family and Medical Leave Act in a lawsuit filed Nov. 9 in Berkeley Circuit Court against the Berkeley County Commission.
When Martin missed several days of work to be with her son in June, she says the office supervisors retaliated by moving her desk away from her co-workers and telling her "Work comes first, then family, so get your priorities straight."
She adds that when she sought the advices of county Human Resources representative Alan Davis and was told her leave was covered under the FMLA, Gooden responded by yelling, "F--k Alan Davis. I don't have to follow any laws, I'm an elected official. You no longer work here, so get out."
Martin, 29, says she quit her position as a transfer clerk because she "could not endure the retaliatory treatment of her bosses." She states in her complaint that her 2-year-old son Charles was diagnosed with Herpangina by Dr. Susan Gawalt in Winchester, Va., and that she informed her supervisor that she needed to take some time off work.
She produced a note from Gawalt, and the complaint says she was told it was unacceptable.
"Plaintiff was constructively discharged from her job with Berkeley County Commission in retaliation for exercising her federally protected rights under the FMLA," the complaint says.
Martin charges the defendant with violating the FMLA and seeks compensation.
Gregory Bailey of Shepherdstown firm Arnold, Cesare and Bailey is representing her.
Judge Christopher Wilkes has been assigned the case.
Berkeley Circuit Court case number 06-C-833