CHARLESTON - A Charleston woman says she was unfairly terminated last January when she tried to return to work from a heart attack.

Emma Johnson states in a lawsuit filed March 22 in Kanawha Circuit Court that Patton Building Services of Morgantown told her that she wasn't needed almost 15 months after she suffered a heart attack while on the job.

"When Ms. Johnson contacted her Area Manager at Patton Building Services, Inc., to advise that she was released to return to work, he informed her that she was no longer needed," the lawsuit states.

Johnson says she had a heart attack while at work on Oct. 13, 2003 and spent the next 15 months in a physician's care. She was released Jan. 31, 2005.

With a clean bill of health, she attempted to return to Patton, she says, but was discriminated against.

"At the time, Ms. Johnson's Area Manager informed her she was no longer needed. Younger and non-disabled people were being hired by the Defendant," the lawsuit says.

"The action of the Defendant in terminating the employment of the Plaintiff is discrimination on the basis of age and disability in violation of the West Virginia Human Rights Act."

Johnson is represented by Katherine L. Dooley and is seeking equitable relief: "Reinstatement to position she formerly held; an award of backpay and lost fringe benefits; an award of front pay and fringe benefits; an award of interest, costs, and reasonable attorneys' fees; and punitive damages."

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-533

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