Woman sues state corrections division and warden, claiming hostile work environment

By Bree Gonzales | Feb 4, 2019

CHARLESTON — An employee is suing a correctional authority and a warden, citing alleged violations of the West Virginia Human Rights Act and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Audrey Elswick filed a complaint in Kanawha Circuit Court against the West Virginia Division of Corrections and David Ballard alleging that they subjected her to sexual harassment included but not limited to verbal abuse of an offensive, threatening and sexual nature.

According to the complaint, Elswick alleges that in July 2014 she started receiving "anonymous letters" through the warden's own mailbox. Printed in large, all capital letters, they discussed her personal life, including an accusation of her being a lesbian. In one instance, Ballard told other employees about the letter in Elswick's presence, inviting open discussions about her alleged lesbian relationship with another employee. Furthermore, she was also required to double her workload until she was constructively discharged in September 2017. 

The plaintiff holds West Virginia Division of Corrections and David Ballard responsible because the alleged unlawful conduct was committed by management and supervisory employees who knew or should have known about the harassment but failed to take immediate remedial action.

The plaintiff requests a trial by jury and seeks compensatory damages including past, present and future lost wages; general damages; punitive damages; litigation costs including attorney's fees and costs; and pre- and post-judgment interests. She is represented by Robert P. Lorea of Lorea Law Office PLLC in Charleston.

Kanawha Circuit Court Case number 18C1507

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Kanawha Circuit Court Lorea Law Office PLLC

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