West Virginia Record

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Companies say woman's harassment claims are bogus

By Kelly Holleran | Jan 26, 2009

CHARLESTON -- Two companies have requested that a former employee's lawsuit in which she alleges sexual harassment be dismissed, claiming the woman did not even work at the companies at the time of the alleged incident.

CDG Management and Automated Payroll Systems were named as defendants in a lawsuit Kanawha County resident Anita Gibson filed Nov. 6 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Also named as defendant was Elwood Pegram, who the companies claim is now deceased.

In her suit, Gibson says she was "subjected to inappropriate sexual comments and touching by Elwood Pegram" on June 13.

Both were employees of CDG Management and Automated Payroll Services, according to the complaint.

Following Pegram's actions, Gibson reported his conduct to her manager, Chris Harris, the suit states.

However, Gibson alleges there were no steps taken to assure her that she was safe and free from harassment.

"In fact, plaintiff was suspended when she refused to work the same shift with Pegram," the suit states.

Because the companies took no actions following Pegram's conduct, Gibson "was left with no choice but to not return to work," according to the complaint.

Both companies deny Pegram's alleged sexual harassment and their unwillingness to mend the situation.

"Defendants have an effective harassment policy that was explained, and made available, to Plaintiff," the suit states. "Defendants have effective remedial procedures in place to deal with any allegations of harassment in the workplace."

They contend the case should be dismissed because Gibson fails to make a claim upon which relief can be granted.

CDG and APS claim Gibson did not take advantage of preventative or corrective opportunities they provided after she was harassed.

Both companies also allege Gibson was not employed by them at the time of the alleged incident.

In her suit, Gibson is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, plus costs, attorneys' fees and other relief the court deems just.

She is also asking that CDG, APS and Pegram be enjoined from similar further conduct, that Pegram be discharged from employment and that CDG and APS be required to conduct sexual harassment training.

At the request of CDG and APS, the case was moved to federal court because the parties in the suit are residents of different states and because the amount of money Gibson is seeking is more than $75,000.

They claim Pegram's citizenship should not be taken into account because he was deceased at the time the suit was filed.

Paul M. Stroebel of Stroebel and Johnson in Charleston will be representing her.

Eric W. Iskra and Alyesha P. Asghar of Spilman Thomas and Battle in Charleston will be representing CDG and APS.

U.S. District Court case number: 2:08-1440

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