The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

April 2, 2013

Settlement reached in discrimination claim

BECKLEY — A $22,000 settlement agreement to an age and gender discrimination claim filed by an employee of the Raleigh County Assessor’s Office with the West Virginia Human Rights Commission was approved Tuesday by the Raleigh County Commission.

The majority of the $22,000 settlement with county employee Barbara Vira will be covered by the county’s insurance, while the taxes, such as Social Security and FICA, on the amount must be paid directly by the county.

Few details were given during the commission meeting and afterward, commissioners and their attorney Bill Roop said they could not comment further about the claim except that it is not a lawsuit and that policy changes will likely occur as a result of the claim.

After the meeting, Commission President Dave Tolliver told media that Roop is working on the policy changes that commissioners could consider at a later date. Both Tolliver and Roop said the settlement is positive for all parties involved and declined further comment.

Charleston attorney Johnnie Brown, with the law firm of Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown and Poe, represented Raleigh County’s insurance provider, Travelers, in the claim.

Brown did not attend Tuesday’s meeting, but spoke later by telephone to The Register-Herald, and explained that Vira, who was 55 when the complaint was filed in May 2012, thought that she had been discriminated against regarding pay. Brown said Vira claimed there was discrimination between herself and younger male employees in the office. She had the option of filing a complaint with the Human Rights Commission or a circuit court suit, Brown explained.

Although Vira’s claims were against Assessor Drema Evans and the Assessor’s Office, the county commission was the primary defendant in the claim because it is responsible for fiscal matters.

Brown said commissioners did not admit liability to the claim, they only approved a settlement agreement.

The final paperwork for the claim has not been filed with the Human Rights Commission; however, Brown said he expects the documents will be available to the public within the next two weeks.

Brown said he did not know the exact amount that the county will have to pay, but explained it would be the same that any employer would have to deduct from wages for taxes.  

— E-mail: chiggins@register-herald.com

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