HUNTINGTON - A former employee is suing Tri-State Medical Center after she claims a physician sexually harassed her.

Area Health Systems Inc. is doing business as Tri-State Medical Center. Dr. Gregory Chaney was also named as a defendant in the suit.

Nicole Stevens was hired as a medical assistant with the defendants in 2011, according to a complaint filed July 11 in Cabell Circuit Court.

Stevens claims Chaney's sexual harassment began in December, after a Christmas party hosted by Tri-State.

In the days and months following the Christmas party, Chaney began continuously demanding that Stevens come alone to his private office at Tri-State to "meet" with him, according to the suit.

At one of the meetings, Chaney offered Stevens money to buy a camera so that he could take pictures of her and she refused the offer to Chaney, according to the suit.

Stevens claims Chaney continued to constantly demand that Stevens come to his private office and she was forced to comply in fear of losing her job.

Chaney's sexual harassment escalated and he sent her text message requesting that she meet him at local hotels or other venues for a proposed sexual encounter, which she refused, according to the suit.

Stevens claims Chaney groped her, forcefully attempted to kiss her and pulled her onto his lap, which she would continually tear herself away and immediately exit his office.

Chaney's actions caused Stevens to suffer severe anxiety and emotional distress and caused her to fear that her refusal to sexually engage with Chaney would result in her dismissal from her position with Tri-State, according to the suit.

Stevens claims on Feb. 27, Chaney implored her to engage in sexual activity with him at a local hotel and when she refused, she received a text message instructing her no to come to work.

The next week, Stevens received a letter dated March 4 from Tri-State informing her that she had been terminated from her employment position, according to the suit.

Stevens claims the defendant violated the West Virginia Human Rights Act by discriminating her based on her gender.

The defendants' actions were willful, wanton and carried out with reckless disregard for the legal rights of Stevens, according to the suit.

Stevens is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by Sean W. Cook of Meyer Ford Glasser & Radman PLLC.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Paul T. Farrell.

Cabell Circuit Court case number: 13-C-479

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