Woman sues Pyramid Counseling for wrongful termination, discrimination

By Kyla Asbury | Sep 25, 2013

Pyramid Counseling in South Charleston

CHARLESTON - A Dunbar woman is suing Pyramid Counseling LLC for allegedly discriminating against her because of her disability and wrongfully terminating her employment.

Professional Payroll Concepts Inc., which is doing business as Personnel Management of WV, and Frank Masters were also named as defendants in the suit.

April H. Harper worked as a secretary for Pyramid from Jan. 25, 2010, until Jan. 18, according to a complaint filed Sept. 4 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Harper claims in summer 2012 she was diagnosed with Temporomandibular disorder and on Aug. 13, 2012, she was placed on medical leave and underwent surgery at Cleveland Clinic.

On Oct. 8, Harper was released to return to work with limitations on the number of hours she could work as well as limitations on speaking, according to the suit.

Harper claims on Dec. 3, she was placed on probation by Masters for excessive absences and tardiness since her return from medical leave.

On Jan. 18, Masters terminated Harper for absenteeism/lateness and unsatisfactory performance and on her exit interview form, Masters noted that "all areas of performance had become unsatisfactory," according to the suit.

However, Harper claims, on her performance appraisal given also on Jan. 18, Masters did not mark any of the 17 categories on the appraisal as unacceptable and several areas were marked as meeting expectations.

Masters noted on the form that 2012 had been a difficult year and there were "changes in the company and new programs, as well as your medical problems," according to the suit.

Harper claims Masters violated the West Virginia Human Rights Act.

The defendants' conduct rises to the level of malice, oppression or wanton, willful or reckless conduct or criminal indifference to civil obligations affecting the rights of others, according to the suit.

Harper is seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre-judgment interest. She is being represented by Richard W. Walters and Brian L. Ooten of Shaffer & Shaffer PLLC.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge James C. Stucky.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 13-C-1673

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