CHARLESTON – A Mercer County woman is suing the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources-Bureau for Children and Families after she claims she was discriminated against and her employment was wrongfully terminated.
Tonia Hodge was employed by the defendant in Princeton and, beginning in 2013, she made complaints to her supervisors regarding understaffing at the DHHR, according to a complaint filed in Kanawha Circuit Court.
On Dec. 10, 2014, Hodge was diagnosed with narcolepsy and, as part of her diagnosis, she was restricted by her medical provider from working more than 40 hours per week.
Hodge claims at the time of her diagnosis and restriction, she informed her employer of her disability and, following the report of her disability, she began to be reprimanded frequently and received disparate treatment from other, non-disabled employees.
Around this time, Hodge filed a grievance surrounding her concerns and in March, she was reprimanded and a fellow employee disclosed the details of the reprimand to other workers, according to the suit.
Hodge claims she requested that the fellow employee be reprimanded, which caused the harassment she was experiencing to increase and on April 17, she was given a temporary change is assigned duties.
On May 4, Hodge filed a grievance regarding the disparate treatment, breach of confidentiality, disability discrimination and retaliation for reporting staffing issues and on May 12, her employment was terminated.
Hodge claims the defendant violated public policy and the West Virginia Human Rights Act.
The defendant also violated the West Virginia Wage Payment and Collection Act and the state’s whistleblower law, according to the suit.
Hodge is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by Stephen P. New and Amanda J. Taylor.
The case is assigned to Circuit Judge James C. Stucky.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 15-C-2016