Lewis Co. woman says man discriminated against her

By Kyla Asbury | Jan 16, 2012

CHARLESTON -- A Lewis County woman is suing a man she claims subjected her to unwelcome offensive comments, solicitations and touching based on her gender.

Two other individuals, Charles E. Heilmann and Christopher G. Atkins, were also named as defendants in the suit.

Brenda A. Miller was employed by EQT Corporation, where she worked as a "Landman II" in its Production-Land Department according to a complaint filed Dec. 15 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Miller claims Heilmann was her supervisor, and that she also worked with James L. Malfregeot.

During her employment, Miller was subjected repeatedly to unwelcome offensive comments, solicitations and touching by Malfregeot based on her gender, according to the suit.

Miller claims although she requested Malfregeot to stop the conduct, he continued to do so.

Despite reporting the conduct to Heilmann, Miller was still subjected to the conduct by Malfregeot, according to the suit.

Miller claims after she reported Malfregeot's conduct to Heilmann, Heilmann began to engage in a pattern of retaliation against her, including yelling at her in front of her colleagues for the purpose of embarrassing her, excluding her from e-mails related to major projects, refusing to speak to her, ridiculing her in front of her colleagues and threatening to place her on a performance improvement plan for reasons related to Malfregeot.

On Nov. 14, Miller was informed by Heilmann and Atkins that she was being suspended without pay because it was "necessary to conduct an investigation to determine if she was making excessive use of the Internet during work hours," according to the suit.

Miller claims she informed Atkins of Malfregeot's conduct and the retaliation she had been subjected to by Heilmann, but on Nov. 25, she received her personal belongings in the mail and the following day, received a letter from Atkins terminating her employment for "2011 performance failures" and for "spending significant amounts of work time surfing personal, non-business related websites."

The defendants unlawfully discriminated against Miller and unlawfully terminated her employment, according to the suit.

Miller is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by Maria W. Hughes.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Charles E. King.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 11-C-2232

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