Council: WV ALJ Roush Stays, But Has to be Nicer

Liz Carey

Charleston, WV (WorkersCompensation.com) – The council overseeing the workers’ compensation program in WV opted not to fire its top judge following a three-hour public meeting on March 8.

Administrative Law Judge Rebecca Roush, of the Workers’ Compensation Office of Judges, had been placed on leave without pay on Dec. 22 by the state insurance commissioner, Allan McVey. Roush, through her attorney, appealed McVey’s actions, alleging McVey threatened her and tried to force her to resign, and that the only body that could fire Roush was the Workers’ Compensation Industrial Council.

Roush also requested a public hearing concerning McVey’s action.

At the council’s meeting, attorneys for McVey and Roush argued their positions before the council went into executive session.

After an hour of deliberation, the council voted not to fire Roush, but instead opted to discipline her verbally.

“The Industrial Council would instruct Rebecca Roush to interact with the employees in her office with respect, and to cooperate with the insurance commissioner on all the tasks which affect both offices,” said Debra Scudiere, a member of the council.

At issue was McVey’s allegation that Roush had created a hostile work environment and had a pattern of retaliation and humiliation toward employees.

McVey’s attorney, Michael Taylor, said Roush’s actions should preclude her from returning to her position.

“The fact of the matter is, this is a bully, and this bully should not be returned to the workplace,” Taylor said, according to the WV Gazette Mail.

Taylor provided the council with several emails that he said exemplified Roush’s behavior. In one, Roush said, “If you’re going to challenge my Ethics, I would hope you would have something more than an unsubstantiated allegation that you spread around like rumor. I very much don’t appreciate it. I will worry about my Ethics, perhaps you should worry about your own.”

Taylor said McVey also received notice of a Facebook message allegedly from Roush to one of her employees who had recently filed a complaint against her that said “Wrong woman. I don’t lose.”

Roush denies ever sending the message and said the incident is under investigation by the WV State Police.

Those were not the first complaints levied against Roush.

Chief Judge for the Workers’ Compensation Office of Judges since 2008, Roush had a complaint filed against her in 2012 when an employee said she was the victim of “increased scrutiny and veiled threats.” Later Roush was accused of retaliating against an employee by demoting them after a disagreement.

Richard Neely, Roush’s attorney, said the council’s decision was unequivocally in his clients favor.

“The decision by the council was unanimous,” Neely said in an interview with WorkersCompensation.com. “There wasn’t a single council member who voted against her.”

Neely said the WV Kanawha Circuit Court had ruled last week that Roush should not only get an open hearing, but that she should also be paid for the time McVey put her on leave.

McVey’s attorney Taylor said in an interview with WorkersCompensation.com that neither he nor his client had any comment on the matter at this time, and that they would not have any comment on the matter in the future.



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