CHARLESTON – A Cabin Creek woman has filed not one, but two lawsuits against the state of West Virginia, her former employer, alleging improper termination.
According to court records, Diana Joyce Burgess filed separate lawsuits against Workforce West Virginia on Oct. 16. One suit is an appeal of the state Education and Public Employees Grievance Board's decision upholding her termination from the Bureau for Employment Programs, while the other is a wrongful termination suit against Workforce West Virginia.
According to its Web site, "Workforce West Virginia is a cooperative effort to provide one-stop delivery of career services to job seekers, employers and other interested individuals." It formerly was known as the Bureau of Employment Programs.
In both suits, Burgess is representing herself pro se, and filed hand-written complaints in each. Records show that in each, Burgess doesn't offer many details on her termination except that she "blew the whistle on behavior, action and inappropriate conduct to upper management."
Apparently, some of the behavior in which she reported involved one of her supervisors, Jane Looney, instructing her to do personal work while on the clock. According to court records, Burgess not only altered a personal property deed for Looney, but also filled out an online application for her son.
Though it is unclear if there is any connection to her whistleblowing, Burgess alleges she "endured severe sexual and discriminating harassment from April 2005 to Sept. 11, 2006."
Also, she alleges she "was instructed to lie by Bureau's investigator regarding certain facts and actions."
In her wrongful termination suit, Burgess asks for "back pay, benefits, interest and supervisory back pay, removal of any statements or correspondence regarding this matter and the proper right to medically retire from state government due to negligent and biased information by upper- and lower-management."
According to her suit, Burgess asks for compensation for both her and her daughter, who she alleges was also victimized by the "harassment, discrimination and retaliation on behalf of the defendants."
Since filing her suits, Workforce West Virginia has filed a motion to dismiss the one Burgess filed against it.
On Nov. 9, Assistant Attorney General Darlene Ratliff-Thomas asked the suit be dismissed because Burgess failed to provide the Attorney General's Office the required 30-day notice of suit, and its "lack of jurisdiction; failure to state a claim for which relief may be granted; and/or failure to exhaust an administrative remedy."
Court records show no further action has occurred in either suit, which are both before Kanawha Circuit Judge Irene C. Berger
Kanawha Circuit Court, Case Nos. 07-AA-145 and 07-C-2217