Fired nurse wins $542K judgement

CHARLES TOWN – A jury last week awarded a nurse a more than $500,000 settlement for a discriminatory firing by the Jefferson County Council on Aging and its executive director, Amy Wellman.

[cleeng_content id="404655561" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]Evelyn McDonough was awarded $96,600 in back pay and benefits, $138,500 in lost future pay and benefits, $264,900 for emotional distress and $60,000 in punitive damages, after a jury found she had been fired for a disability – a diagnosis of probable cancer – in a manner that was malicious, oppressive or wanton. The jury also found that McDonough had not been given her severance pay within 72 hours, as is required by the West Virginia Wage Payment and Collections Act.

McDonough, who worked for JCCOA from June 2007 until her termination in March 2012, was fired by Wellman the day after she reported that a CT scan had detected she could possibly have ovarian cancer. McDonough’s cancer diagnosis was later confirmed.

Wellman argued she had fired McDonough because she had failed to perform her duties, reporting that a relative of one of the JCCOA’s patients said McDonough had not visited the patient in three years. She said McDonough had confirmed this.

McDonough said in her Oct. 12, 2012 complaint that Wellman had told her the cancer diagnosis was “all the more reason you should not be working for us, because you will need to be focused on yourself and won’t be able to give our clients 100 [percent] of your attention which they deserve.”

McDonough argued that she had been fired because of her potential illness, an argument the jury found to be true. The jury additionally found that McDonough would not have been fired if it had not been for the potential illness.

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