Posted on Nov 22, 2021

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Sgt. Timothy Allen, who currently serves in the Wood County Sheriff’s Department, has filed a lawsuit against the Wood County Commission, Wood County Sheriff’s Department, and Sheriff Steve Stephens. Allen claims his job took a turn for the worse after Stephens learned he and Deputy Tasha Hewitt were dating. The suit alleges Hewitt is the same deputy with whom Stephens had become obsessed.

In the lawsuit, Allen states he was retaliated against after confronting Stephens for openly making derogatory, gender-specific statements about Hewitt on multiple occasions. The suit claims that Stephens violated the West Virginia Human Rights Act (WVHRA) and West Virginia Whistleblower Law (WVWL) when he responded to Allen’s complaints on two occasions by threatening to “take his stripes,” which would demote the rank of the 11-year department veteran.

Stephens also went so far as to require Allen go teach at the State Police Academy in Charleston, West Virginia, for 16 weeks. The suit states that another employee heard Stephens say that he “had to send [Allen] to the academy to break up their little family.” The witness also claims that Stephens made vulgar and sexist remarks when he implied that if he sent Hewitt to the academy instead of Allen, she would have conducted herself in a sexually inappropriate way.

Hewitt filed a complaint over the hostile and degrading work environment with the Wood County Commission in March 2020 that prompted an investigation led by a third-party law firm. According to the suit, Stephens’ retaliatory behavior toward the couple continued following the investigation and Wood County Commissioner Blair Couch ignored Hewitt’s attempts to contact him about reports of mistreatment by Stephens.

“Retaliation in the workplace is a serious safety issue,” says Todd Bailess of Bailess Law Firm, who represents Allen. “We should commend employees like Sgt. Allen who have the courage to speak out against discriminatory treatment of women at the hands of those in power.”

This is the third lawsuit the Bailess Law Firm and Merriman Law Firm have filed against the Wood County Commission, Sheriff’s Department, and Sheriff Stephens since October 2021. The case is Timothy L. Allen v. Wood County Commission, a political subdivision of Wood County, Wood County Sheriff’s Department, a division of the Wood County Commission, and Steve Stephens, Case No. 21-C-303, in Wood County, West Virginia.

About Bailess Law Firm

The attorneys at Bailess Law Firm have zero tolerance for sexual harassment in the workplace. The West Virginia-based law firm takes pride in helping restore dignity and bringing hope to workers who have been subjected to unlawful employment practices.