MARTINGSBURG - A Berkeley County man claims his former employer fired him because of a physical impairment.

Charles Riley filed a suit March 19 in Berkeley Circuit Court, against Ecolab Inc. seeking damages after claiming Ecolab violated the West Virginia Human Rights Act.

Riley was hired on Oct. 13, 2003, as a production associate, and he worked in the salvage area until Oct. 12, 2005. Riley "has degenerative disc disease, the onset of which pre-dated his employment with Ecolab," the suit says.

On Oct. 10, 2005, Riley claims he received a work assignment that required him to stand in one place for extended periods of time, which caused him to have back pain.

The suit states Riley told his managers he was suffering from back pain, and Human Resources Director Kathleen Drury referred him to a physician. Riley was put off of work for several days, then released to return to work, "with the sole restriction that the plaintiff not stand in one spot for long periods of time," the suit says.

According to the suit, Drury transmitted the release to corporate human resources, but was told Ecolab cannot accommodate any restrictions. Riley claims in the suit that he was told that corporate required him to prove a significant change in his medical being and that the releases he has provided were not sufficient.

On March 8, 2006, Riley was released to work without any restrictions but claims Ecolab would not permit him to return to work.

On May 8, 2006, another physician saw Riley and concluded the back condition was ongoing and Riley required accommodation. It was also determined that Riley should not lift more than 40 pounds at one time, or more than 20 pound frequently.

On June 8, 2006, ADP, Ecolab's agent, informed Workforce West Virginia by letter that the company "wishes to only have (Riley) return with no restrictions," the suit says.

"There was work available that the plaintiff could have performed without accommodation," the suit says. However, Ecolab said there was no work available.

Riley was fired on June 30, 2006. He claims Ecolab is in violation of the West Virginia Human Rights Act, by not allowing Riley to return to work.

Riley, through his attorney David Hammer, seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

The case has been assigned to Judge Gray Silver.

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