James T. Branham and Thomas D. Staker were also named as defendants in the suit.
Melissa C. Pauley was employed by Bob Evans for 24 years until her employment was terminated on Sept. 25, according to a complaint filed March 24 in Kanawha Circuit Court.
Pauley claims she held various positions as a hostess, cook, server, assistant manager, assistant general manager and, at the time of her termination, as general manager of Unit 24 in South Charleston.
In June, Branham visited Unit 24 and provided Pauley with positive feedback regarding the cleanliness, organization and overall efficiency of the restaurant and, for background purposes, he returned to the restaurant as an area coach later that month and was Pauley’s direct supervisor.
Pauley claims at the June meeting, she expressed her concern with Branham of the pay disparity between male and female management and, following that meeting, Branham began to ignore her phone calls, infrequently visited Unit 24, degraded her in the presence of her employees and did not provide her with the support expected of an area coach.
Pauley viewed Branham’s conduct as retaliatory for her complaint regarding the pay disparity among male and female management, according to the suit.
In July, Branham informed Pauley that he was hiring back Dave Bailey as an assistant general manager and Travis Drennan as a general manager, both of which had worked for Bob Evans before and had quit, according to the suit.
Pauley claims she stated that it sounded like Branham was hiring his buddies and expressed concern over hiring Bailey, because he had abandoned his job when he had previously worked for Bob Evans.
In August, Branham’s retaliatory conduct intensified when he issued Pauley two written disciplinary actions and placed her on a 90-day performance improvement plan and on Aug. 14, Pauley contacted the human resources department to discuss her concerns.
Drennan was assigned to Pauley’s store as a general manager in-training for the Barboursville store, however, Pauley believed that Branham, was lining up her replacement and she complained to the human resources department, according to the suit.
Pauley claims following her termination, Drennan replaced her, as she had predicted.
The defendants violated the West Virginia Human Rights Act, according to the suit.
Pauley is seeking compensatory and punitive with pre- and post-judgment interest. She is being represented by Todd S. Bailess of Bailess Smith PLLC.
The case is assigned to Circuit Judge Joanna Tabit.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 16-C-428