Karen Hail, 57, once named one of the 25 most powerful women in U.S. banking, names MidSouth Bank and MidSouth Bancorp defendants in a federal lawsuit filed Monday in Lafayette.
Hail became executive vice president and Chief Operating Officer of the bank on Sept. 1, 1984 and allegedly fell from grace beginning in 2009.
U.S. Banker Magazine named her among the nation’s 25 most powerful women in banking and listed her in its “Women to Watch” survey from 2005 until 2008, the petition says.
The suit, which represents only one side in the dispute, alleges Hail was placed on administrative leave in 2009 after she filed for medical leave under FMLA.
She was allegedly then barred from her email accounts and ordered to leave the bank premises.
The suit claims Hail was not allowed to meet with Rusty Cloutier, CEO of MidSouth Bank, who instead allegedly engaged in a pattern of retaliation.
In June 2010, William Charbonnet, bank board chairman, told Hail she would not be re-nominated for board secretary, a position she held for 25 years, or for a board seat, according to the release.
Charbonnet allegedly told Hail her leave had been disruptive, and he had prayed about the meeting notifying her that she would not be renominated in hopes that she would not become emotional because she was “a woman,” the suit says.
Last September, Hail applied for the position of president of MidSouth Bank, but allegedly was not interviewed.
When she asked why only male candidates were interviewed, Hail received a letter dated Oct. 7, 2010, from Charbonnet informing her that her employment would be terminated March 31, 2011, the suit says.
The president’s position that Hail had asked to be interviewed for was changed to chief operating officer - Hail’s former position - and was given to Jerry Reaux whose salary was double that of Hail, the suit claims.
According to MidSouth documents filed with the SEC, Hail’s total annual compensation in Fiscal Year 2010 was $157,100.
According to the bank’s 8G filing earlier this year, Reaux began work with MidSouth at a base salary of $300,000. Additionally, he is provided term life, disability and other benefits normal to the bank’s executives as well as an auto and certain club dues.
Reaux was vice chairman and CEO of Tri-Parish Bank, domiciled in Eunice, when he accepted the MidSouth post.
Prior to joining Tri-Parish, Reaux was president/CEO of LBA Savings Bank and executive vice president of Bank of Lafayette.
He took LBA’s parent company public in 1996 and ordchestrated a subsequent merger with IberiaBank.
Reaux is also board chairman of The Independent Weekly, a newspaper publishing company.