West Virginia Record

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Former executive director sues Berkeley Senior Services for wrongful termination

By Kyla Asbury | Jun 15, 2016

General court 07

MARTINSBURG – The former executive director of Berkeley Senior Services is suing after she claims her employment was wrongfully terminated.

Linda Holtzapple was the executive director for 13 years and oversaw the day-to-day operations of the Berkeley Senior Services and oversaw management of more than 90 employees and their supervisors, according to a complaint filed in Berkeley Circuit Court.

Holtzapple claims she competently and professionally performed her duties until she was wrongfully terminated in retaliation for opposing wrongdoing and waste by Eddie Edmonds, the president of the Board of Directors.

Edmonds used his position on the Board of Directors to secure an agreement to provide IT services to the Berkeley Senior Services in violation of the West Virginia Ethics Act, which prohibits public servants from having a financial interest in a public contract over he has some control, according to the suit.

Holtzapple claims she noted that the fees being paid by the agency to Edmond’s business for basic IT services was unnecessarily excessive and she notified Edmonds on one occasion that she could not approve the payment because the invoice he submitted for more than $1,200 did not sufficiently detail the IT work he allegedly performed.

“In an effort to protect the agency’s funds from waste, Ms. Holtzapple sent an email to her staff directing them that all requests for IT services were to go through her executive assistant rather than directly to Mr. Edmonds so that Ms. Holtzapple could control IT expenditures by the agency,” the complaint states.

Holtzapple claims Edmonds confronted her over her directive to the staff and accused her of interfering with his ability to talk directly to staff. He thereafter undertook steps to have her removed from her position so that he could be appointed to her position.

The plaintiff complained to a board member about Edmonds’ misconduct and also informed the executive director of the Upper Potomac Area Agency on Aging and the Commissioner of the State Bureau on Aging about Edmonds’ actions, according to the suit.

Holtzapple claims one week after her report to the UPAAA executive director and three days after her report to the state commissioner, Edmonds ordered her to meet with him on Dec. 11, and informed her that she was being placed on administrative leave.

At that time, a board member stated that the reason for their decision to place her on administrative leave was due to an alleged employment mistake she made three years earlier in July 2012 and because of a pending “fraud” audit allegedly pending with the state, according to the suit.

Holtzapple claims the board voted to terminate her employment on Jan. 25 and she was informed on Jan. 29.

Neither Edmonds, nor any board member, gave Holtzapple a reason for her termination, according to the suit.

Holtzapple is seeking compensatory damages. She is being represented by Gregory A. Bailey and J. Daniel Kirkland of Arnold & Bailey PLLC.

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