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Commission, Brady respond to civil lawsuit

Parties deny any wrongdoing in termination of former tax deputy

February 10, 2014
By Chad Clem Staff Writer , The Inter-Mountain

ELKINS - The Randolph County Commission and Sheriff Mark Brady have denied any wrongdoing in responding to a wrongful termination lawsuit brought against them by a former employee.

The civil suit alleges that Darlene Phares was demoted on Feb. 7, 2013, from her position as chief tax deputy, which she had held "for over 2 (sic) years with no disciplinary action" and replaced by "a younger female... who previously held the position as (her) subordinate."

Darlene Phares had served as a tax deputy "for 18 years with no disciplinary action," the suit states.

The filing further alleges that Darlene Phares "was wrongfully, recklessly, carelessly, willfully, wantonly and unlawfully... terminated without cause" on Feb. 19, 2013. The suit claims that age discrimination and a hostile working environment were contributing factors in Darlene Phares' termination.

Brady and the County Commission both filed responses to the suit, on Nov. 26, 2013, and Dec. 3, 2013, respectively.

In his response, Brady, represented by attorney Peter G. Zurbuch, "admits that (Darlene Phares) was demoted from her position as Chief Tax Deputy and that she was replaced by others in the Sheriff's Office whom she had previously supervised," but Brady "denies that age played any role in the decision." Brady also denied the allegations that there was no factual or job performance basis for the demotion and that it created a hostile work environment.

The County Commission, represented by attorney Harry Smith, states in its response to the suit that it was "without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of" Darlene Phares' disciplinary record while working as chief tax deputy, or if she had performed her duties in a "satisfactory and/or above average manner." The response also alleges that the Commission had no knowledge or sufficient information as to whether or not Darlene Phares' termination was based on age discrimination.

The suit lists Darlene Phares and her husband, Donald, as plaintiffs, and lists the defendants as the Randolph County Commission and Brady, named individually and as an employee and agent of the Commission. Darlene and Donald Phares are represented by attorney Lorena Waddell.

According to the filing, Darlene Phares and Donald Phares are demanding "an amount that would adequately compensate (them) for the unlawful acts and/or omissions and violations of law" as well as "attorney's fees, costs, interest and for such other relief as the Court (sic) or jury deems just; further, Plaintiffs (sic) demand an amount in excess of $25,000."

Both Brady's and the Commission's responses deny that either Donald Phares or Darlene Phares are entitled to any relief or compensation as a result of the matter.

The Inter-Mountain contacted the County Commission, Brady and their attorneys, but none had any comment on the matter.

The Inter-Mountain contacted Waddell's office but received no response.

Contact Chad Clem by email at cclem@theintermountain.com.

 
 

 

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