West Virginia Record

Friday, January 24, 2020

Summary judgment granted in St. Mary's wrongful termination case

By Kyla Asbury | Feb 24, 2016


HUNTINGTON – Summary judgment was granted in a lawsuit against St. Mary’s Medical Center alleging wrongful termination.

Circuit Judge Christopher D. Chiles dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice, after hearing oral arguments from the parties regarding summary judgment on Feb. 5. The order was filed Feb. 16.

The plaintiff, Joseph H. Mayo, was hired in 2005. On March 12, 2009, he was written up and given the opportunity to respond. He was formally served with a written warning and given one unpaid day of suspension on March 13, 2009.

In the written warning, Tana Root, the patient’s accounts manager, told Mayo that his conduct and behavior reflected a lack of good judgment and violated the hospital’s standards of behavior. He was told that if he harassed another employee, he would be fired.

In late 2010, St. Mary’s observed a decrease in Mayo’s productivity and, as a result, began to monitor his job performance and conducted an audit of his e-mails as part of the process.

In addition to being 40 percent less productive than his co-workers, St. Mary’s discovered that on five work days, between Dec. 23, 2010, and Dec. 30, 2010, he sent more than 862 non-business e-mails to a male co-worker, some of which were sexually charged, according to the order.

“As a result of plaintiff’s excessive and sexually charged e-mails during work hours, which coincided with his steep decrease in productivity, St. Mary’s again suspended plaintiff,” the order states.

St. Mary’s gave Mayo a final written warning on Jan. 7, 2011.

On Aug. 6, 2014, Darell Hager, a co-worker of Mayo’s, made a verbal complaint regarding his behavior and, following this, St. Mary’s launched an investigation into Mayo’s behavior and he was placed on unpaid suspending pending further investigation and was given the opportunity to respond to the allegations.

After the plaintiff responded to the allegations, St. Mary’s conducted a further investigation and he was asked, again, to respond to more allegations on Aug. 21, 2014.

He was then terminated on Aug. 25, 2014, according to the order.

Because the plaintiff has provided no evidence showing a causal connection between his termination and his claims that it was done due to FMLA and West Virginia common law, he failes to meet his prima facie burden of retaliatory discharge.

St. Mary’s motion for summary judgment was granted and the complaint was dismissed with prejudice, according to the order.

Mayo filed the lawsuit in 2015 in Cabell Circuit Court, alleging that he suffered from episodes of depression and the defendant was aware that he suffered from depression.

In 2014, Mayo received a prescription for Wellbutrin to assist him in quitting smoking and he experienced problems with sleeping due to the prescription, according to the suit.

Mayo claims in July, he experienced irritability and emotional problems and met with the defendant's Employee Assistance Program employee, Debbie Parsons, who recommended Mayo consult with a psychiatrist.

Parsons scheduled for Mayo to see a psychiatrist and shortly thereafter, he was admitted to Riverpark Hospital on Aug. 9, to obtain care for his depression and mental difficulties he had been experiencing, according to the suit.

Mayo claims the defendant knew he had checked himself into Riverpark, however, it did not provide him with any documents, notices or other written materials concerning his entitlement to receive leave and/or job protection under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Mayo was seeking compensatory and punitive damages. He is being represented by Hoyt Glazer, Ben Sheridan and Mitchell L. Klein. St. Mary's is being represented by Drew Smith and Anders Lindberg of Steptoe & Johnson.

Cabell Circuit Court case number: 15-C-302

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Organizations in this Story

Steptoe and Johnson LLPSteptoe & Johnson PLLCKlein & Sheridan LC