Former bank VP goes to federal court for discrimination case

By Steve Korris | Jan 9, 2009

CHARLESTON – Former Ameribank Vice President Bonnie Robertson of Thorpe, who accused the bank of discrimination by age and gender in McDowell Circuit Court, must now seek damages from a federal agency in federal court.

Her hopes of recovering from the bank expired in September, when the U.S. Office of Thrift Supervision closed the bank.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, as receiver, removed her constructive discharge suit from McDowell County to federal court in Bluefield on Dec. 17.

The FDIC has succeeded to all rights, titles, and powers and privileges of Ameribank, Christopher Hamb of Charleston wrote in the notice of removal.

The FDIC "stands in the shoes of Ameribank with respect to all matters," he wrote.

Robertson sued the bank last year, claiming chairman James Sutton and manager Louis Dunham created a hostile environment that forced her to resign.

Her lawyer, Lacy Wright Jr. of Welch, claimed she was "bypassed and skipped over for promotion as executive vice president and other executive positions by other less qualified employees on a regular and consistent basis."

Wright wrote that defendants violated the standard of equal pay for equal work.

He alleged damages including loss of income and benefits, medical care, pain, suffering, anguish, trauma and distress.

He identified Sutton as a resident of Meadowlands, Pa., and wrote that Sutton hired Robertson in 1974 as bookkeeper and proof operator at a branch bank in Northfork.

Sutton promoted her six times, according to the complaint. Starting in 1998, she carried four titles as senior vice president, cashier, personnel officer and secretary.

In 2006, at age 53, she resigned.

Wright wrote that "the emotional distress suffered by plaintiff Bonnie Robertson was so severe that no reasonable person could be expected to endure it."

He wrote that "she was already constructively discharged."

Hamb answered for the bank that Robertson failed to state a cause of action upon which a court could grant relief.

He wrote that the statute of limitations barred her claims.

After Ameribank closed, Hamb remained on the case for FDIC.

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