Commission, sheriff sued by former employee

ELKINS – A civil suit was filed Thursday alleging Randolph County Sheriff Mark Brady wrongfully terminated an employee in the county tax office.

The civil 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.

The filing alleges that Darlene Phares was demoted on Feb. 7 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.

However, the complaint later states that as a result of her demotion and replacement, “two individuals whom Darlene Phares had previously supervised would now be… taking over her office and… taking her position as Chief Tax Deputy” and “that her annual salary would be decreased by an amount of $8,000.” The complaint then states Darlene Phares “could not endure such treatment and had no option other than to end her employment.”

The suit states Darlene Phares is “over the age of 40,” and claims age discrimination was a factor in Brady’s decision to demote her by maintaining “that her demotion and/or (sic) crucial aspects of her employment were motivated in whole or in part by her age classification.” The suit alleges that her replacement created “hostile” working conditions.

The suit also alleges that Brady’s actions were in opposition to procedures and policies outlined in employee handbooks or manuals.

The suit claims that, as a result of the defendants’ actions, Donald Phares “was caused to suffer, and will continue to suffer in the future, loss of consortium, loss of recovery, affection, assistance and conjugal fellowship, all to the detriment of the marital relationship.”

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.”

Brady, who won the sheriff’s seat in last November’s county election, began his term of office in January. He previously served as the department’s chief deputy. Brady had not responded to phone messages from The Inter-Mountain as of presstime.