Kanawha woman sues Huntington Bancshares for wrongful termination

By Kyla Asbury | Apr 18, 2011

CHARLESTON -- A Kanawha County woman is suing Huntington Bancshares after she claims her employment was wrongfully terminated.

CHARLESTON -- A Kanawha County woman is suing Huntington Bancshares after she claims her employment was wrongfully terminated.

The Huntington National Bank, Barry Bobson and Richard Wallace were also named as defendants in the suit.

Debra C. Bowden worked for the defendants and its prececessors for nearly 39 years and from 1993 until her termination, she worked as an assistant vice president and trust officer at the Lee Street branch, according to a complaint filed March 24 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

In 2004, Bowden too a leave of absence for approximately six weeks because of complications caused by a hiatal hernia.

In November 2008 she claims she suffered an "episode" due to the hiatal hernia, which caused her to have surgery, so she took leave pursuant to the Family Medical Leave Act.

On March 23, 2009, Bowden claims she spoke with Dobson to inform him of the surgery. She claims she told him after her surgery it was likely she would be able to return to work, which was why she wanted to inquire about the status of her position.

Dobson advised Bowden that the head of the Trust Department, Bruce Ross, would determine the status of the position, according to the suit.

Bowden claims later that day, Wallace contacted her and informed her that her position had not been eliminated and was open for her to return to work.

On March 24, 2009, Bowden had corrective surgery to repair the hiatal hernia. On April 1, 2009, Bowden spoke with Wallace again concerning her return to work and was again advised her position was still open, according to the suit.

Bowden claims on April 18, 2009, she fractured the lumbar portion of her back, which caused her to not be released to return to work by her physician until May 20, 2009.

On May 20, 2009, Bowden claims she returned to work and attended a meeting with Dobson and Wallace, who presented her with a memorandum outlining "Debby Bowden Problems" both before and after she took leave in November 2008.

During the meeting, the defendants terminated Bowden's employment, according to the suit.

Bowden claims after her termination, the defendants continued to employ two younger employees and distributed her work and responsibilities among them.

The defendants terminated Bowden's employment because of her age and injuries, according to the suit.

Bowden is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by Abraham J. Saad.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge James C. Stucky.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 11-C-480

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