By ROBERT A. DEFRANK
Times Leader Staff Writer
ST. CLAIRSVILLE - In the wake of a change of 911 administration, former director Robyn Marshall is claiming wrongful termination and taking legal action. Marshall was terminated Jan. 11, 2013, after a prolonged meeting.
According to a release from Christina L. Corl, attorney with the firm of Crabbe, Brown & James, which Marshall has retained, there has been significant misinformation regarding her client's termination.
On Nov. 18, 2012, an injured child was brought to the site of the dispatch center. Two dispatchers rendered assistance to the child while an ambulance was en route. Once the ambulance, along with six paramedics, arrived at the site, one of the dispatchers returned to her post, as was appropriate, in case other members of the community had emergencies to report.
The second dispatcher, without authorization and against policy, left her post and rode to the hospital in the ambulance, and failed to tell anyone at the center she was leaving her post during her shift, according to the attorney.
"My client, as 911 director, is in charge of supervising all 911 employees, including dispatchers," Corl stated. "My client had a conversation with an attorney for Belmont County, who told her to issue the AWOL dispatcher a verbal warning. After she administered the verbal reprimand to the dispatcher who left her post in the middle of her shift without telling anyone, my client received an e-mail from the director of human resources for the county directing her not to issue the verbal reprimand. My client informed the director of human resources that the reprimand had already been issued and, thereafter, my client was terminated, without any explanation whatsoever."
Corl added that they have been informed that the six paramedics who allowed the dispatcher to ride in the ambulance to the hospital have been disciplined by the fire chief for allowing an unauthorized person to ride in the ambulance.
"No action has been taken against the fire chief for issuing the discipline," Corl stated.
"There is simply no valid explanation for the termination of my client, especially since she was directed by an attorney for the county to issue the verbal reprimand," she went on. "The only explanation is that there is an ulterior motive for her termination."
She speculates that Marshall's status of the only female department head may have played a part in the decision. In addition, she noted several prior complaints to human resources regarding a hostile work environment and discrimination.
"We believe her termination is actually in retaliation for her prior complaints and because of her gender," Corl added that legal action was being brought against the county. "My client was faithfully doing her job to protect the citizens of Belmont County and to ensure that the 911 center was properly staffed to handle emergencies.
"It is a shame that significant county resources will be expended to defend this illegal action by the commissioners."
DeFrank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.