The former CEO of Williamson Memorial Hospital filed a lawsuit this week against the owners of the hospital, claiming that her rights were violated and that her firing was “willful and malicious” and the result of an invasion of her right to privacy.

According to the lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Charleston, Stacey Markus is asking for the court to award her lost wages and benefits, as well as punitive damages in relation to her firing from the position of CEO last year.

According to the lawsuit, after Mingo Health Partners and its principals — Williamson Mayor Charlie Hatfield, Sam Kapourales and Doug Reynolds — took over the facility, they promoted Markus from chief nursing officer to chief executive officer in June 2018.

Markus claims in the lawsuit that she “consistently performed her duties in a satisfactory manner and met the reasonable expectations of her                             employer,” through August 2018, at which time she was admitted to the hospital on an inpatient basis to be treated for “migraines and intractable pain.”

Markus claims in the lawsuit that, after her discharge from the hospital, she went to Hatfield’s office to pay rent on the residence she rented from him in Mingo County.

During that meeting, Markus claims, Hatfield questioned her about her illness.

“Specifically, defendant Hatfield stated that he heard or knew of the patient’s inpatient admission to the hospital; that she was leaving him ‘in a pickle’ as to running the hospital; that if he had known she had an illness that he never would have promoted her; that she had ‘no business going to that hospital to be taken care of’; that ‘your nurses and your staff should never see the CEO sick like that’; and that he was ‘wondering if maybe I put too much on you,’” the lawsuit said. “(Markus) left the conversation feeling violated and embarrassed that defendant Hatfield had intimate knowledge of the nature and type of healthcare services the plaintiff received during her brief admission at Williamson Memorial Hospital.”

Markus claims in the lawsuit she fell ill a second time in August 2018 and was admitted to the hospital overnight and discharged, after which she began being treated for seizures.

Upon returning to work, Markus claims, she was immediately summoned to a meeting with Hatfield, Kapourales and Billy Whitt, from Williamson Memorial Hospital’s Human Resources Department. During that meeting, the lawsuit claims, Hatfield requested Markus voluntarily resign and informed her that if she did not, she would be terminated.

Markus said in the lawsuit she refused and was terminated in September 2018.

In the lawsuit, Markus claims that her firing was:

• Unlawful and retaliatory motivated, in whole or in part, by her attempt to receive FMLA benefits; and

• Based, in whole or in part, on her disability and/or perceived disability and the hospital’s failure to accomodate the disability.

Further, the lawsuit claims, Mingo Health Partners and its principals violated her right to privacy by “obtaining information about the plaintiff’s health status, condition, treatment or otherwise provided to her as a patient at Williamson Memorial Hospital.

Mingo Health Partners had not filed an answer to the lawsuit as of presstime this week.

Editor’s note: A lawsuit is a legal filing and only represents one side of an issue.

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