LAKE CHARLES – A Louisiana woman is suing the bank where she served as an employee for 19 years, alleging Sabine State Bank & Trust Co. terminated her without cause in part because of her age and a desire to bring in “new blood.”
Plaintiff Rebecca Halbrook, a resident of DeRidder, filed the May 25 lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, Lake Charles Division, claiming violations of the federal Age Discrimination and Employment Act (ADEA).
Halbrook had been with the bank since 1996, working her way up from a teller earning $7.35 per hour to become regional operations manager of Sabine’s Southwest Louisiana branches at $22 per hour.
According to court documents, Holbrook had received no write-ups or verbal reprimands and had received excellent ratings, including a $5,000 bonus in 2015 for assisting with a $1 million recovery for the company.
Nevertheless, according to court documents Halbrook’s supervisor, Brian McCann, allegedly told officers during a regional meeting in 2015, “We are in the process of weeding out the old and bringing in the new.”
Halbrook was 61 at the time.
In July of 2015, Halbrook was informed by a teller supervisor at the DeRidder branch that the branch manager was allegedly harassing her and when directed to make changes by Sabine President and CEO Lee McCann, the branch manager responded, “Those changes had to come from Becky (Halbrook) because she is stupid.”
The branch manager was later transferred to another DeRidder branch with no loss in title, position, nor a reprimand, according to the lawsuit.
The plaintiff maintained that her supervisor began taking responsibilities from her and assigning them to other, less qualified and untrained employees, causing confusion because too many managers were giving conflicting directives.
Halbrook also alleged she was directed to train a replacement to serve in her place upon her retirement, despite the fact she had not submitted any proposal to retire.
In addition she alleged she was barred from meetings and discussions on bank operations and was ignored by her supervisor, who failed to do her performance evaluation for the 2014-2015 year, even though she had .
Halbrook was terminated on Jan. 8, 2016 for “unsatisfactory work performance.”
She claimed she had been illegally terminated because of her age.
Halbrook said in court documents her complaints to officials of the bank were met with an offer to change termination from unsatisfactory work, to “voluntary retirement,” with pay extending through June 30.
Halbrook requested a jury trial and damages, including back pay, reimbursement for lost position, Social Security benefits, front pay and punitive damages, mental anguish damages and attorney fees.