West Virginia Record

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Women accuse healthcare organization of wrongful termination

State AG

By Kyla Asbury | Jan 14, 2020

Employmentlaw

CHARLESTON — Two women are suing Psychological Assessment and Intervention Services after they claim it violated the West Virginia Human Rights Act.

Terrie Daugherty-Holmes and Mira Brown filed the lawsuit against PAIS, Dale M. Rice and Mary Lee Wilson in Kanawha Circuit Court. Daugherty-Holmes and Brown were employed by PAIS until Sept. 12, when they were fired.

Brown worked as direct care staff since she was hired in 2007 and her job was revised in July, changing her to a scheduling coordinator and paying her on a salaried or exempt basis.

Even after the title change, Brown continued to devote the majority of her working time to the direct care functions of her prior position, according to the suit.

Daugherty-Holmes was hired Jan. 7, 2019, to serve as a clinical director, according to the suit.

As part fo the IDD Waiver Program (IDD), there was a patient known as Mr. X who was an IDD Waiver recipient and he had a documented history of sexual aggression and/or sexual assault of and against females in public and female caregivers, according to the suit.

Daugherty-Holmes and Brown claim Mr. X's individualized program plan (IPP) specifically included a restriction prohibiting any female from being in his home alone with him or providing direct care services to him at any time.

Brown traveled to Mr. X's home as part of her duties while his regular male caregiver was in the home to make a "med pass," and Mr. X's IPP specifically states that the male caregiver must physically position himself between Mr. X and any female passing medication to him to allow for immediate intervention if necessary, according to the suit.

Brown claims when she arrived she discovered that the male caregiver had simply left the home without notice or explanation, leaving Brown alone in the home with Mr. X. Brown claims she attempted to contact the male caregiver multiple times but could not get through to him.

Brown contacted Daugherty-Holmes, her immediate supervisor, requesting relief from having to care for Mr. X alone and Daugherty-Holmes was able to get ahold of the male caregiver to return to Mr. X's home, according to the suit.

The plaintiffs claim several other times after that incident, Brown was compelled to provide solo in-home care services for Mr. X when the defendants failed or refused to make a male care provider available for him. 

"On each occasion when Brown was compelled to provide solo care for Mr. X, she was forced to work an extended shift of 10-15 or more hours, she had only sporadic cell phone contact due to the rural location of Mr. X's residence in Webster County, and was unable to contact male caregivers to relieve her," the complaint states.

Daugherty-Holmes received word on July 27, that the male care provider then providing care for Mr. X needed to be relieved of his work duties so an investigation could proceed and she traveled to Mr. X's home to begin the investigation and in hopes of identifying a male care provider to substitute for the vacating male care provider, according to the suit.

The plaintiffs claim upon arriving, Daugherty-Holmes discovered there were no male care providers on-site or immediately available and she elected to remain in the home rather than abandon the client with no care whatsoever.

Daugherty-Holmes made efforts to local a male to relieve her, including to Rice, who wholly failed to respond to any of her calls or text messages. Daugherty-Holmes was forced to remain in Mr. X's home for 18 hours before she was able to locate a male provider to relieve her.

Each time Daugherty-Holmes was forced to provide care for Mr. X, she was forced to work a shift in excess of 12 hours and Rice and Wilson both instructed her to continue to provide the services to Mr. X herself or staff him with other female caregivers without regard to the restrictive conditions of his IPP.

The defendants regularly told Daugherty-Holmes to ignore the IPP and staff Mr. X's home with female staff, which was a violation of the explicit terms of the IPP, according to the suit.

Daugherty-Holmes and Brown were then terminated from their employment. They claim the defendants created a hostile working environment.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages. They are represented by Mark A. Toor.

Kanawha Circuit Court Case number: 19-C-1078, 19-C-1089

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