Women say they were wrongly fired

By Kelly Holleran | Jul 21, 2009

MARTINSBURG -- Two women have filed a lawsuit against their former employer, alleging they were wrongly fired because their supervisors allegedly felt they failed to conform to desirable female roles.

Dena D. Crosbie and Shawn N. Stephens say they worked for Aramark, an international company specializing in food services, until they were terminated on Oct. 29, 2007.

Both women were over the age of 40 at the time of their dismissal and were in management positions, their complaint originally filed in Jefferson Circuit Court states.

Crosbie says she worked for 10 years as a food and beverage supervisor at the U.S. Fish and National Wildlife Service National Conservation Trading Center, while Stephens worked for eight years as a controller at the center.

The women were "aggressive and assertive managers" and had "an impeccable record and work ethic," their complaint says.

However, they say they were fired because they failed to conform to their supervisors' desired sexual stereotype for female behavior and because of their age and gender.

Crosbie's and Stephens's supervisors saw them as insufficiently submissive and deferential, the suit states.

"As a result of their supervisors' hostility toward the plaintiffs for their failure to conform to the sexual stereotype of desirable female behavior, false charges were initiated against both plaintiffs in order to have them removed from their respective positions as Food and Beverage Supervisor and Controller," the complaint says.

During her last year of work, Crosbie was paid $36,400, and Stephens earned $59,740, according to an affidavit filled out by Aramark's liability claims specialist.

Because of their termination, Crosbie and Stephens suffered humiliation, loss of personal dignity, mental and emotional distress, lost wages and loss of anticipated future wages, according to the complaint.

Crosbie and Stephens are asking the court to grant a permanent injunction preventing Aramark and its employees from engaging in sex and age discrimination; to order Aramark to institute policies that provide equal employment opportunities for older female employees; and to order Aramark to provide Crosbie and Stephens past and future losses resulting from the company's employment practices.

In addition, the women are seeking punitive damages, plus pre- and post-judgment interest, costs, attorney's fees, and other relief the court deems just.

Aramark removed the case to federal court because the women are residents of a different state than the company and because they are seeking more than $75,000.

Harry P. Waddell of Martinsburg will be representing Crosbie and Stephens.

Kevin A. Nelson of Huddleston Bolen in Charleston and M. Scott McIntyre and Craig A. Hoffman of Baker and Hostetler in Cincinnati will be representing Aramark.

U.S. District Court case number: 3:09-CV-37

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