A statue of John Marshall overlooks the campus of Marshall University in Huntington.

CHARLESTON - A former assistant vice president of academic affairs is suing Marshall University for forcing her to take a lower position that reduced her salary as a result of a disability.

Though Barbara Tarter lives in Cabell County, the same county in which Marshall is located, she is suing the school's Board of Governors and Sarah Denman in Kanawha Circuit Court. The lawsuit was filed Dec. 8.

Tarter says she started work at Marshall on Jan. 1, 2001 as the assistant vice president of academic affairs and dean of enrollment management. Almost four years later, she was awarded tenure and the faculty rank of associate professor, she adds.

Soon after, Tarter says her health took a turn for the worse and in January 2005 she was diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome.

In August of the same year, Tarter says she asked Denman to make "reasonable accommodations" for her based on her disability. Denman replied by telling her the amount of her annual raise would be reduce, the complaint says.

Also, Denman informed Tarter of her intent to remove several units from her supervision without giving a reason, the complaint says.

In February, Tarter says she reported that she was being discriminated against to the Human Resources Department, which took no action.

In May, Tarter says she was told she could either resign from her current position and take a lower-ranking one or be fired. She chose resignation.

Tarter seeks compensation for lost wages and benefits, out-of-pocket losses, emotional and mental distress, humiliation, anxiety, embarrassment, depression, aggravation, annoyance and inconvenience.

Kristina Thomas Whiteaker of Grubb Law Group is representing Tarter, who also seeks punitive damages and charges the defendants with four violations of the West Virginia Human Rights Act.

Judge Louis Bloom has been assigned the case.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-2609

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