Former employees sue Aetna, Special Metals for sexual harassment

By Kyla Asbury | May 14, 2013

HUNTINGTON - Two former employees are suing Aetna Building Maintenance and Special Metals for sexual harassment they were allegedly exposed to during their employment.

HUNTINGTON - Two former employees are suing Aetna Building Maintenance and Special Metals for sexual harassment they were allegedly exposed to during their employment.

Tina Patizer and Tim Kochendoerfer were also named as defendants in the suit.

Diana Norvell and Melinda Eaves were employed by Aetna and worked as subcontractors for Aetna at the Special Metals plant in Huntington, according to two complaints filed May 3 in Cabell Circuit Court.

Norvell and Eaves claim they worked in close proximity to Kochendoerfer and were subjected to unwelcome gestures of a sexual nature by Kochendoerfer.

The plaintiffs were subjected to unwelcome verbal comments of a sexual and/or vulgar nature by the defendants accusing them of engaging in a sexual relationship and were subjected to unwelcome harassing telephone calls on her personal phone while not working by Aetna by Patizer, requesting information and accusing them of engaging in a sexual relationship, according to the suits.

Norvell and Eaves claim in the course of an apparent investigation into them, the Human Resources Department asked questions concerning and accusing them of engaging in a sexual relationship and on May 6, 2011, Aetna officially terminated their employment, claiming they misused the company vehicle.

The investigation that was conducted by the company did not inquire into the subject of the company vehicle, but rather focused on the alleged sexual relationship between Norvell and Eaves, according to the suits.

Norvell and Eaves claim Norvell applied for and was granted unemployment benefits with Workforce West Virginia and the defendants contested her claim, but an Administrative Law Judge found no misconduct on Norvell's part.

At all times relevant to this action, Norvell and Eaves have been work colleagues and nothing more, according to the suits.

Norvell and Eaves claim they were subjected to sexual harassment and a hostile working environment by the defendants, which violated the West Virginia Human Rights Act.

The plaintiffs were subjected to gender discrimination and their termination of employment was in violation of West Virginia code and constituted retaliatory discharge, according to the suits.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre-judgment interest. They are being represented by Abraham J. Saad of Abraham J. Saad PLLC.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge David M. Pancake.

Cabell Circuit Court case number: 13-C-292, 13-C-293

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