Woman says she was fired over disability

By Kyla Asbury | Nov 26, 2013

HUNTINGTON - A woman is suing ICF Incorporated LLC after she claims she was discriminated against because of her disability and age.

Patricia Marickovich, Sally Byard and Nancy Schwachter were also named as defendants in the suit.

Susan Whitmore submitted her resume to the defendants and in October 2010 she was contacted and had a background check performed, as well as two phone interviews, according to a complaint filed Nov. 12 in Cabell Circuit Court.

Whitmore claims the defendants never saw her in person during the process and on Nov. 9, 2010, she was hired to work at ICF as an early childhood education specialist for West Virginia Head Start.

During this time, Whitmore had been waiting for knee replacement surgery and was using braces and a walker and, as her condition deteriorated, she began using a wheelchair. Whitmore also suffers from a thyroid condition that creates an elderly appearance, exemplified by very thin hair, according to the suit.

Whitmore claims she attended training in Washington, D.C., enjoyed her work, attended meetings regularly and never had any complaints from her supervisors.

On June 1, 2012, Whitmore met with Marickovich, who was the newly hired state director of technical assistance services, and during the initial meeting, Marickovich asked her how long she had been on crutches, how much longer she would be on them and inquired how she was capable of performing her job and stated that at ICF they "have to look professionally competent," according to the suit.

Whitmore claims she informed Marickovich that she had no problem meeting her job requirements.

Byard, the grantee specialist, upon seeing Whitmore in person, made similar statements to those of Marickovich, according to the suit.

Whitmore claims Byard and Marickovich continued to make comments regarding her appearance and ability to perform her job competently throughout the months following June 2012 and Whitmore continued to perform the essential functions of her job and worked on 14 of 21 Head Start programs in the state, which required her to drive all day, which she was able to do.

After the June 2012 meeting, Marickovich and Byard began giving Whitmore ultimatums and unreasonable requests that were exceedingly difficult, including requesting that she check her email every 15 minutes and every 24 hours when she was on the road. The defendants also requested that she add a separate phone line for their calls because they stated her current service, Vonage, was too noisy, according to the suit.

Whitmore claims on July 27, 2012, she received an e-mail stating that Byard and Marickovich had not heard from her and would like to discuss her employment status. The defendants knew that Whitmore had been in Chicago on behalf of ICF.

Later that day, Whitmore received a 12-page e-mail titled "Final Written Notice" requiring her to complete 15 items or be terminated, according to the suit, and no explanation was given for the requirements.

Whitmore claims on Aug. 2, 2012, Schwachter stated that she did not portray or embrace the ideals ICF washed to project and terminated her employment.

The defendants violated the West Virginia Human Rights Act for discriminating against Whitmore because of her disability and age, according to the suit.

Whitmore is seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre-judgment interest. She is being represented by Abraham J. Saad of Saad Law Office.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge F. Jane Hustead

Cabell Circuit Court case number: 13-C-853

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