Hall of Fame Honorees Announced


       A former employee is suing the City of New Cumberland alleging discriminatory and retaliatory actions after the employee posted a photo of “fecal parasites” in the City’s water  on his personal Facebook page.    Virgil Wickham was employed by the City for five years at the time of the Facebook posting in 2020 when he was discharged from his position as Chief Sewer Operator   According to the lawsuit, filed in Hancock County Circuit Court June 23, 2022 , Wickham said he was approached by citizens complaining of the City’s water and reporting red welts when they showered in the water in 2020. 

       Wickham states in the lawsuit he observed something was wrong with the water in his home;  got suspicious; took a water sample  into his lab; and the microscope revealed fecal matter.  

    “The Plaintiff immediately called the Mayor of New Cumberland and had him review the results of the sample.   The Mayor of New Cumberland acted as if the revealed fecal parasites in the water were not a problem.”  At the time of the incident, Councilman Dick Blackwell was serving as Mayor.

       According to the complaint, Wickham informed the Mayor he was going to make the public aware and “on or about June 21, 2020, Wickham posted a picture of the microscopic results of fecal matter in the specimen in a post on his personal Facebook page that stated: “This is your drinking water, New Cumberland.”

     Shortly after the Facebook post the lawsuit asserts  the Mayor informed the plaintiff that the City Board had hired another person to complete his job duties and responsibilities.  The lawsuit alleges that the Mayor stated the Board was going to terminate the plaintiff’s employment for his Facebook page.  Wickham was terminated June 25,2020.

      “The defendant terminated the plaintiff (Wickham) employment in whole or in part, because the plaintiff made a comment related to an issue of public concern,”  according to the lawsuit.

      A second cause of action in the lawsuit, alleges that the City of New Cumberland violated Wickham’s First Amendment right of free speech under the WV Constitution.

     Wickham is represented by the Charleston law firm of Atkinson & Polak and is seeking a jury trial.

     At press time City officials had yet to receive a copy of the lawsuit.