Former employees sue Personal-Touch Home Care for discrimination

By Kyla Asbury | Jan 22, 2019

WINFIELD — Three employees are suing Personal-Touch Home Care of West Virginia for discrimination and violations of several West Virginia laws.

Personal Touch Holding Corp. and Debra Wolfenbarger are also named as defendants in the suits.

Melanie D. Duncan, Miranda L. Gillispie and April N. Salzano were employed with Personal Touch as a licensed practical nurse, a registered nurse and an HR director, respectively, according to complaints filed last month in Putnam Circuit Court.

The three plaintiffs claim a nurse aide exhibited sexually harassing and inappropriate behavior and they went to Wolfenbarger with their complaints.

Wolfenbarger failed to investigate or respond to the plaintiffs' complaints about the nurse aide, according to the suits.

The plaintiffs claim they went to Wolfenbarger regarding patient safety. They made complaints about drug diversion, medical services that were documented but not performed and directing the plaintiffs to perform procedures with inadequate equipment or training.

The plaintiffs claim these issues violated the law and deprived patients of critical health care services.

Wolfenbarger and Beverly Stephens, the defendants' scheduler, stated that they wanted to get rid of female nurses because they caused too much drama and later hired more men and both Duncan and Gillispie were let go, according to the suits.

The plaintiffs claim the defendants violated the West Virginia Patient Safety Act and the West Virginia Human Rights Act and discriminated against them based on their gender.

The defendants also violated the West Virginia Wage Payment and Collections Act by failing to provide the plaintiffs' final paychecks in a timely manner and violated substantial public policy.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. They are represented by Todd S. Bailess, Rodney A. Smith and Jeffrey A. Foster of Bailess Smith.

The cases are assigned to Circuit Judge Philip Stowers

Putnam Circuit Court case numbers: 18-C-220, 18-C-221

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