Former town clerk sues Bath, W.Va.

June 10, 1998|By AMY WALLAUER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - The former municipal clerk for the Town of Bath has filed a lawsuit claiming she was unfairly fired for blowing the whistle on wrongdoing by town officials.

In a complaint filed Tuesday in Morgan County Circuit Court, Dorthy Silvers asks for her job back, full payment of back wages and reinstatement of benefits, attorney fees and $100,000 for damages and emotional distress.

She also asks that the mayor and members of the Town Council each be fined $500 for violating the "Whistle-Blower Law," a state law meant to protect people who report waste or wrongdoing by public agencies or officials, said Paul Taylor, her Martinsburg, W.Va., attorney.

"It protects those persons who make good-faith reports and are then retaliated against," Taylor said. "In this case, she was fired."


Mayor Susan Webster and council members could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

During her employment, Silvers made "good-faith reports of waste and wrongdoing by the mayor, council and employees of Bath," according to allegations in the complaint.

"I think in this case, she was involved in a report regarding certain town officials and she also made a complaint that there were some plumbing problems at the Town Hall," Taylor said. "She had some questions about some of the benefits employees were receiving and there were several instances of her asking questions and basically ruffling feathers."

The Bath Town Council passed an ordinance on March 16 providing for the restructuring of government. Until then, the police department handled streets, trash collection, grave-digging and other functions, while the Berkeley Springs Water Department handled water.

The restructuring freed the police department to handle law enforcement and shifted the other responsibilities to the water department, council members said.

It also phased out Silvers' position and added a public utilities clerk for the new Public Utilities Department.

Silvers said she believed her termination was based upon those reports, not on the phasing out of the clerk's job, as members of the council have said.

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