Kanawha woman accuses Union Carbide of wrongful termination

By Kyla Asbury | Mar 13, 2012

CHARLESTON -- A Kanawha County woman is suing Union Carbide Corporation after she claims her employment was terminated based on her age.

CHARLESTON -- A Kanawha County woman is suing Union Carbide Corporation after she claims her employment was terminated based on her age.

Christopher Griffith, an employee of Union Carbide, was also named as defendants in the suit.

Diana Taylor was employed by Union Carbide for approximately 37 years, according to a complaint filed Feb. 21 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Taylor claims on July 15, 2011, she was wrongfully discharged from her employment based on her age.

Union Carbide alleges that Taylor "voluntarily retired from her employment, notwithstanding that Mrs. Taylor repeatedly informed Union Carbide that, in fact, she did not intend to retire because no severance package was made available to her," according to the suit.

Taylor claims in early 2011 she was considering retirement and expressed a desire to retire and an interest in obtaining a severance package to Griffith, who informed her in March 2011 that she would not receive a severance package since her job was not being eliminated/

On March 24, 2011, Taylor contacted Human Resources at Union Carbide requesting guidelines for the severance program and four days later, was informed that Union Carbide did not have any written information for employees to review regarding severance packages, according to the suit.

Taylor claims on March 29, 2011, she responded to Human Resources by e-mail that she was aware of situations where an employee received a severance package without job elimination.

After exhausting her attempts to obtain information from the local Human Resources person, Taylor sent a letter to Andrew N. Liveris, who is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Dow Chemical Company, which owns Union Carbide, on April 13, 2011, and requested a severance package upon her retirement, which she anticipated would be on or about July 1, 2011, according to the suit.

Taylor claims on April 15, 2011, Griffith asked her about her anticipated retirement and she informed him that she was not committed to the July 1, 2011, date and that she was unsure of her retirement plans due to her request for a severance package and that no retirement plans had been put in place with the Human Resources department.

On May 12, 2011, Rick Cassiday, the Human Resources director at Dow Chemical, informed Taylor that she was not eligible for a severance package and on May 31, 2011, Taylor appealed the decision, according to the suit.

Taylor claims she met with Griffith on June 1, 2011 and told him that she did not have any plans for retirement because it remained uncertain whether she was going to receive a severance package and during the meeting, Griffith instructed Taylor to fill out her goals for that year since he had earlier told her not to fill them out in anticipation that a "retirement would obviate the need to complete this task."

Griffith also had Taylor continue to train Stephanie Erwin, who was ultimately to replace Taylor when she did retire, according to the suit.

Taylor claims on June 29, 2011, she received a letter from Griffith advising her that she had 48 hours to accept a two-week extension of her employment from her July 1 effective date of retirement.

On July 15, 2011, the defendants terminated Taylor's employment, according to the suit.

Taylor is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by Stephen A. Weber, John R. McGhee Jr. and Robert L. Bandy.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 12-C-325

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