Monongalia woman says she was forced to resign because of judge candidacy

By From staff reports | Feb 8, 2018

MORGANTOWN – A woman is suing Monongalia County Commission after she claims she was forced to quit her job with the prosecuting attorney’s office because she was running for circuit judge.

Marcia Ashdown was also named as a defendant in the suit.

Gail V. Lipscomb was employed by MCC as an assistant prosecuting attorney from Sept. 24, 2004, until Feb. 1, 2016, according to a complaint filed in Monongalia Circuit Court.

Lipscomb claims in 2014, she and Ashdown discussed the possibility of the plaintiff running for the position of circuit judge in Monongalia County and Ashdown supported her interest in running and expressed no reservations about her doing so.

In March 2015, Lipscomb and Ashdown discussed the decision to run for circuit judge and Ashdown assured her that she could retain her position as assistant prosecuting attorney during the campaign and that if she was unsuccessful in the campaign, she could retain her position.

On Sept. 2, 2015, Ashdown issued a memorandum directed to the plaintiff and Cindy Scott, a co-worker, explaining that their decisions to run for circuit court judges has placed the prosecuting attorney’s office in a difficult position and that she was assessing how it affected the office.

On Oct. 2, 2015, Ashdown held a meeting and stated that the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office needed to be a team and that people with other aspirations, like running for judge, would need to make a choice whether they wished to be on her team or to pursue other things, according to the suit. She concluded that she needed to know within one week and left the meeting.

Lipscomb claims she immediately proceeded from the meeting to Ashdown’s office and asked her to clarify what she meant and whether she was presenting the plaintiff with a choice of either resigning from her position or dropping her candidacy for circuit judge.

Ashdown responded that she would not allow the plaintiff to remain employed as an assistant prosecutor and run for circuit judge, according to the suit.

Lipscomb claims that she began to cry and told Ashdown that she would have appreciated her talking directly to her rather than announcing it to the entire staff and Ashdown said there was nothing to discuss.

The plaintiff said that if she chose not to continue her campaign, she would not lie to people about the reason for it and that she would tell the truth that she was given an ultimatum, according to the suit.

Lipscomb claims on Oct. 19, 2015, Ashdown stated she was going to seek a separate ethics opinion concerning the plaintiff and Scott’s candidacies and that she would let them know when she got a response.

On Jan. 13, 2016, Ashdown informed Lipscomb that if she intended to continue her candidacy for circuit judge, then it was time for them to part ways, according to the suit.

Lipscomb claims Ashdown agreed to give her some time to refinance her house in order to provide for her family and would provide a positive job recommendation in her job search.

The plaintiff, at no time, breached any policy or procedure of Monongalia County or the Monongalia County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, according to the suit.

Lipscomb is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by Walt Auvil of The Employment Law Center.

Monongalia Circuit Court case number: 18-C-19

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Monongalia Circuit Court The Employment Law Center PLLC

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