Former employee sues WVDOT for sexual harassment

By Kyla Asbury | Nov 15, 2012

CHARLESTON – A former employee is suing the West Virginia Department of Transportation-Division of Highways for sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

Melanie Cobb was employed by the defendant in its Elkview branch and performed her duties in a satisfactory manner and met the defendant’s reasonable expectations, according to a complaint filed Nov. 2 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Cobb claims throughout her employment she was subjected to sexual harassment, a hostile work environment, gender discrimination and reprisal.

The defendant’s actions constituted sexual harassment and/or created a hostile work environment in violation of the West Virginia Human Rights Act, including sexual conversations taking place in the workplace; derogatory comments being made about Cobb’s gender; displaying and/or bringing inappropriate materials in the workplace; and co-workers inappropriately touching each other in the workplace, according to the suit.

Cobb claims she suffered indignity, embarrassment and humiliation.

During Cobb’s employment she applied for other positions within the WVDOT, but, despite being qualified for each position she applied for, she was passed over for each position and men were placed in those positions, according to the suit, which violates the West Virginia Human Rights Act.

Cobb claims because of this, she has suffered lost wages and benefits.

The defendant’s treatment of Cobb was motivated in whole or in part by the fact that she complained that she was being sexually harassed, subjected to a hostile work environment and/or was being discriminated against on the basis of her gender, according to the suit, which constitutes an act of reprisal.

Cobb is seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. She is being represented by Todd S. Bailess and Joy B. Mega.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Carrie Webster.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 12-C-2210

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