Woman says she was fired because she's gay

By Kelly Holleran | Oct 6, 2008

HUNTINGTON -- A Wayne County woman has filed suit against Prestera Center, alleging she was wrongfully fired because she is gay.

Stacey Brumfield claims she worked as a counselor at Prestera and was fired after being accused of having a relationship with one of her clients.

Brumfield, though, claims she had no inappropriate relationship with a client and that the only reason she was terminated was because of her sexual orientation.

Brumfield was hired Sept. 10, 2007, as a counselor in Prestera Center's Renaissance Place Women and Children Program, according to a complaint filed Sept. 3 in Cabell Circuit Court.

The program is a long-term residential addictions treatment program for women and their children, the suit states.

Several women in the program share housing in a residential neighborhood, work jobs and receive counseling.

Brumfield claims that throughout her employment, one of her co-workers, Sheila Ford, continually berated a gay client in front of Brumfield.

Ford stopped when she discovered Brumfield is also gay, according to the complaint.

"Upon information and belief, Sheila Ford began telling others that Ms. Brumfield was having sexual relations with clients," the suit states.

But Brumfield claims she was not.

Brumsfield's supervisors treated her differently because she is gay, according to the complaint.

"Among other things, she was 'written up' for missing meetings when other workers, who were not gay, received no disciplinary action," the suit states. "Prestera supervisors made comments that they would never hire a lesbian again."

Brumfield was called into a meeting with her supervisors, Teresa Jackson and Kim Miller, on Jan. 9, according to the complaint.

Brumfield claims that during the meeting she acknowledged she is gay, but denied any relations with her client.

"Teresa Jackson thereafter informed Ms. Brumfield that she could look at her the first time she saw her and tell she was gay," the suit states.

After the meeting, Brumfield received a letter Jan. 14 that stated she was fired after an inappropriate relationship with a client, according to the complaint.

Brumfield claims she was terminated and wrongfully discriminated against because of her sexual orientation.

She denies ever having a relationship with her clients.

She has suffered a loss of pay, emotional pain, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, attorney's fee and court costs, the suit states.

Brumfield is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, plus attorney's fees, costs and pre- and post-judgment interest.

Richard W. Weston of Weston Law Office in Huntington will be representing her.

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