Former employee sues Kanawha parks board, director for wrongful termination

By Kyla Asbury | Jul 26, 2010

CHARLESTON -- A Charleston woman and former employee is suing the Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Commission and its director for wrongful termination of employment.

Sandra Baisden was employed by KCPRC for 14 years as a clerk in the accounts payable department and was terminated in Jan. 5, according to a complaint filed June 17 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Baisden claims she was wrongfully terminated from her employment in violation of the West Virginia Whistle Blower law.

In November 2009, the West Virginia Ethics Commission began investigating Jeff Hutchinson, the director of KCPRC and requested Baisden to forward information to them regarding Hutchinson, according to the suit.

On Dec. 8, 2009, Baisden claims a receptionist alerted her to the receipt of a check for KCPRC in the amount of approximately $172,000, and that she told the receptionist to take the check and the associated file to Hutchinson for his review. Baisden claims the receptionist told her Hutchinson was not in the office at that time so she advised her to place the check in the office safe.

Hutchinson was not told about the check for approximately one week for reasons unknown to Baisden, according to the suit. When Hutchinson was shown the check, his response was that it "not be shown to anyone else, and stated 'what happens when we get extra money? They cut our budget,'" according to the suit.

When Kanawha County Commissioner Kent Carper learned of the check and that it had been received a week before the commission was made aware, he ordered an investigation, according to the suit. At this time, the defendants placed the blame on Baisden and used the incident as a pretense for terminating her employment.

Baisden claims she was employed in the accounts payable department and not accounts receivable, so what happened with the check was not in her job duties.

Baisden is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by Richelle K. Garlow and Michael T. Clifford.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Tod J. Kaufman.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 10-C-1081

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