CHARLESTON -- A Kanawha County woman is suing Charleston Area Medical Center after she claims she was discriminated against because of her age and disability.

Deborah A. Compton began her employment with the defendant in 1971 as an acute-care physical therapist, according to a complaint filed Aug. 25 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Compton was diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis in 1991, but claims she has successfully worked as a physical therapist since she became disabled with minimal reasonable accommodations provided by the defendant.

On Jan. 24, 2009, Compton reached the age of 60, and in April 2009, her supervisors and CAMC's employee health physician suggested she retire, according to the suit.

Compton claims when she refused to retire, the defendant suspended her from work until she secured medical evaluations to confirm that she was able to perform her job functions.

On May 11, 2009, Compton was permitted to return to work after she produced the medical evaluations, according to the suit.

Compton claims the suspension was an adverse action taken against her because of her disability and/or age and the defendant "had no legitimate business reason for subjecting plaintiff to the suspension and requiring medical evaluations as a condition of work."

On Nov. 20, 2009, Compton was required to meet with the employee health physician again.

Compton claims the employee health physician again told her she should retire or accept a demotion to an out-patient physical therapy job for which she was not qualified.

The employee health physician "was obviously angered by plaintiff's refusal to retire or accept a demotion and ... wrote an order requiring that plaintiff pass a 'functional capacity evaluation' before returning to her job," according to the suit.

Compton claims the defendant wrongfully asserted that she was unable to perform the functions of her job with reasonable accommodations due to her disability and failed and/or refused to consider or discuss any reasonable accommodations that might be available to assist her.

Compton claims the defendant designed the functional capacity evaluation to ensure that she would fail and sent her to its own employee for the evaluation.

The defendant refused to allow Compton to return to work and placed her on an indefinite suspension, according to the suit.

Compton is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by Cameron S. McKinney, David L. Grubb and Kristina Thomas Whiteaker.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Paul Zakaib Jr.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 10-C-1515

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