Woman files wrongful discharge case against WVSSPA

By Harmon Marks | Feb 8, 2012

MADISON -- A longtime West Virginia School Services Personnel Association member wants a Boone Circuit Court jury to require monetary awards because she was wrongfully discharged.

Charleston attorney Richard W. Walters presented Terri L. Young's case Dec. 29, naming the association and Robert L. Brown and Jacqueline Long, individually, as defendants.

Complaint says Young resided in Madison when a controversy came up over her association membership. She says she was employed by the Jefferson County School System more than 20 years. In 2009, Young says she was hired by the association "as a project staff representative" and given a leave of absence from her Jefferson County position. Her pay and benefits still came from Jefferson, with reimbursement from the association, complaint noted.

She cites her agreement was on a yearly basis beginning July 1, 2009, with last renewal last July 1. Prior to the association's 2011 annual spring meeting, Young announced she was running for president, a position held by Long.

Following the May 7 election won by Long, Association Executive Director Brown presented changes to the Personnel Handbook for approval by the Executive Committee. Included, Young says, was the following: "Effective October 1, 2011, any WVSSPA (the Association) member who is employed by WVSSPA as a project staff representative must relinquish his/her membership status ..."

Upon acceptance of the handbook change by the association, Young says she was the only member employed as a staff representative. She was advised by Long and Brown she would have to resign her membership or quit as a staff rep.

She filed a grievance with WVSSPA last Oct. 1 challenging handbook changes.

Young says a letter dated Oct. 3 from Brown advised that her grievance would not affect enactment of policy and she should decide by 1 p.m. Oct. 4 about her status. Letter dated Oct. 4 said she was no longer employed by the association in accordance with policy.

Complaint claims violation of public policy relative to the State Labor-Management Relations Act and her employment agreement, among other things.

Young wants compensatory and punitive damages, lost wages and benefits, litigation costs, pre-judgment interest, and such further relief jury finds appropriate.

Billie Jo Streyle, a Charleston attorney, filed a Motion to Dismiss the complaint, elaborating, among other points, that Boone Circuit Court is improper venue because neither individual defendant resides in Boone County, WVSSPA's principal office is in Kanawha City, and Personnel Handbook amendments were adopted by vote in Logan County.

Case is docketed for May before Judge William S. Thompson.

Boone Circuit Court case number: 11-C-240

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