MORGANTOWN -- A Preston County woman is suing West Virginia University Hospitals and a Chestnut Ridge Hospital dietary manager after she claims she was wrongfully terminated from her employment because of her disability.

In the spring of 2008, Pamela S. Briggs applied for a position with the defendant as a dietetic assistant and after a number of interviews, trial work day and an examination by the a physician employed by the defendant, was hired on June 30, 2008, according to a complaint filed Aug. 23 in Monongalia Circuit Court.

Briggs claims that prior to being hired, she completed the necessary employee health paperwork, which disclosed a prior back injury, and the physician that evaluated her found that although she had a large muscle tear in her shoulder, she could perform the essential functions of the job with limitations.

On Aug. 19, 2008, Briggs was meeting with her Toni Taylor, her supervisor and the dietary manager at Chestnut Ridge Hospital, and was rubbing her shoulder when Taylor asked what was wrong with her, according to the suit.

Briggs claims that she stated her shoulder hurt because of her disability, but that it would always hurt and it was something she would have to live with.

Taylor stated that "she knew nothing about plaintiff's disability and she was going to have to make a phone call," the complaint states.

On Aug. 21, 2008, Briggs claims Taylor told her she could not keep her because if her disability and that she could not have any one working in the kitchen with limitations. She claims when she told Taylor she had done everything she had been told to do, Taylor told her she knew that, but it was her policy and escorted her out of her office and out of the kitchen.

Briggs went to see Kari Eckleberry, the defendant's human resources employee, to turn in her badge when she was asked to submit to an exit interview, according to the suit.

When she told the defendant of Taylor's policy of having no one with a disability or limitations in the kitchen, Briggs claims they became nervous, but did not dispute or attempt to correct Taylor's policy decesion.

In the spring of 2010, Briggs claims she sought to obtain her personnel file from the defendant, but was refused a copy.

The defendants terminated Briggs' employment because of her disability, which caused her to suffer lost wages exceeding $34,000; mental anguish; emotional distress; lost employee benefits; promotion opportunities; embarrassment; and annoyance, according to the suit.

Briggs is seeking reinstatement to her position and compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $1 million. She is being represented by Eldon A. Callen.

Monongalia Circuit Court case number: 10-C-599

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