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Youth center to ask for lawsuit's dismissal

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Charleston youth center accused of withdrawing a job offer from a woman because she was perceived to be a lesbian will soon file a motion to dismiss the woman's lawsuit against it.

Jessica A. Hudson, 34, of Charleston is seeking punitive damages in the case. The Bob Burdette Center hired Hudson for the executive director's position in the summer of 2011.

However, a few days after she accepted the position and gave a two-week notice to her previous employer, two board members called to inform her the offer had been rescinded, according to a complaint filed at the Kanawha County Circuit Clerk's office.

The board members cited inconsistencies in Hudson's resume and misrepresentation during the interviews, according to the complaint.

Hudson's attorney said the board members believed Hudson was a lesbian after someone at the center saw her Facebook profile.

"She was working out her two weeks notice when they rescinded the offer," said Rick Brown, Hudson's attorney. "Luckily they (former employer) took her back."

David Mincer, an attorney representing the center, declined to comment on the specifics of the case. However, he did confirm he would file a motion to dismiss with Kanawha County Judge Carrie Webster in the coming days.

"We'll be filing by the end of the week or Monday," he said.

This is not the defense's first motion to dismiss. Mincer also filed one last September. Webster denied that motion on Feb. 7.

The previous motion to dismiss claimed that sexual orientation is not recognized as being a protected class under state law. The motion to dismiss also claimed that Hudson's assertion that the termination of her employment was illegal under a city ordinance also had no merit.

"The plaintiff is attempting to use a Charleston ordinance to establish a statewide public policy," the defendant's September motion to dismiss reads.

Charleston is one of a few cities in the state that prohibit businesses and organizations operating inside municipal limits from discriminating based on sexual orientation. The state has no such law.

Brown said Hudson's firing violated city code. He said she never misrepresented herself during the interview and did not lie on her resume.

Her resume showed that she had attended classes at Concord University, but it did not say she had obtained a degree from that college, he said.

"She never told them she had a degree," he said. "And they never asked."

Center representatives are also claiming that Hudson said she had chaired a committee for young professionals at the Charleston Area Alliance. However, she was a member of the committee and did not chair it.

Brown believes both reasons were just excuses used to fire Hudson because of her perceived sexual orientation.

"They should have made their decision based on whether the person can do the job, not on what they see on Facebook," Brown said.

"This is a case about people being required to look at facts and make a decision based on that rather than bigotry and hypocrisy," he added.  

Representatives of the Bob Burdette Center did not return calls seeking comment.

Hudson has extensive experience working with children, Brown said. She was a volunteer with the Girl Scouts and she has worked for the Salvation Army's Boys and Girls Club.

She is currently employed with the Prestera Center, Brown said. 

Charleston City Council has ceased funding the center because of the lawsuit. The city had originally earmarked $13,500 for the center.

Webster will hear the motion to dismiss at 1 p.m. Oct. 17, Brown said.

Jury selection is scheduled for Nov. 5. The trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 7.  

Contact writer Paul Fallon at paul.fallon@dailymail.com or 304-348-4817.     Follow him at www.twitter.com/PaulBFallon. 

 


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