West Virginia Record

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Former employee accuses WVU, Potomac State College of retaliation


By Kyla Asbury | Aug 15, 2019

MORGANTOWN — A woman is suing the West Virginia University Board of Governors on behalf of WVU and Potomac State College, accusing them of retaliating against her for whistleblowing.

Samantha Ashby said she applied to work as an administrative associate for Potomac State College and began to work for the school in June 2018, according to a complaint filed in Monongalia Circuit Court.

Ashby said her job began with a probationary period of six months and that she had very little training. She said she was not adequately trained to use a number of systems required for her to perform her job and that, despite that inadequate training, she made every effort to learn the processes from the beginning of her employment.

Early on in her employment, Ashby was informed that one particular contractor was not required to follow the same processes as others, and there was a special folder set aside for that contractor, according to the suit.

Ashby said she was surprised that some contractors were handled differently, but, as she continued working, she was exposed to more instances, which gave rise to a reasonable belief that public money was being mishandled or wasted.

Ashby said she saw several invoices that concerned her. In November 2018, she discussed her concerns with her direct supervisor, Mark Tyler. At a meeting, Ashby also spoke up about her belief of waste and wrongdoing.

Later that month, Ashby received a written warning and probationary period extension from the defendants, according to the suit.

Ashby said that in December 2018, she was publicly demeaned and humiliated by a supervisor. On Jan. 8, she filed a grievance with the Public Employees Grievance Board alleging harassment. The following day, she received a notice of intent to terminate from the defendant, and she was placed on work-from-home assignment.

When she was brought back to work in May, she was informed her probationary period would be extended until November 2019, as well as several other changes to her position that made it substantially harder to do her job, according to the suit.

Ashby said she resigned on June 12, outlining the hostile, retaliatory and discriminatory environment the defendants had created in a letter to them. She is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is represented by Lydia C. Milnes and Aubrey Sparks of Mountain State Justice.

Monongalia Circuit Court case number: 19-C-198

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