HUNTINGTON –- Ten former SuperValu employees who claim they were laid off, then not rehired because of their age have filed suit against the company and one of its supervisors.
Michael A. Adkins, Steven D. Adkins, Robert D. Ashworth, Juan E. Auffant, Frederick R. Bledsoe Jr., Danny Burns, Gary W. Nelson, Roger L. Noe, Craig R. Nottingham and Jerry L. Pullen were laid off from their jobs at the Milton SuperValu in either 2004 or 2005, according to the complaint they filed Dec. 1 in Cabell Circuit Court.
At the time they were laid off, each of the men had worked for the company between 18 and 21 years, the suit states.
They claim they asked the company that they be re-hired if such an opportunity would arise.
However, in May 2007, the company began to hire new employees, but none of the men were re-hired because of their ages, according to the complaint.
The men, who are between the ages of 45 and 60, allege their supervisor, James Cummings, was involved in the decision not to re-hire them.
Cummings either made the final decision not to re-hire the men or recommended they not be hired, the suit states.
In the two-count suit, the men are seeking back pay and employment benefits, reinstatement or front pay, unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, plus attorney's fees and other relief the court deems just.
At the request of SuperValu and Cummings, the case has been removed to federal court because the men are asking for more than $75,000.
In addition, SuperValu is incorporated outside West Virginia, so the men and the company are residents of two different states.
The question of age discrimination is a federal one, and so the case must be brought before a federal court, according to the motion to dismiss.
SuperValu and Cummings allege the men added Cummings as a defendant "for the sole purpose of attempting to deprive SUPERVALU of its right as a non-citizen of the State of West Virginia to remove this case to the Federal District Court."
However, the company and Cummings contend the men are not allowed to bring suit against Cummings because any complaint of discrimination must be brought before the court within two years of the employment action.
"To the extent that Plaintiffs are asserting that Mr. Cummings violated the WVHRA by terminating their employment, such claims are barred by the applicable statute of limitations inasmuch as the Plaintffs were laid off between July 17, 2004, and July 29, 2005, while the Complaint was not filed until December 1, 2008," the motion to remove states.
J. Michael Ranson, Cynthia M. Ranson and George B. Morrone III of Ranson Law Offices in Charleston will be representing the men.
Thomas E. Scarr and Michael E. Estep of Jenkins Fenstermaker in Huntington will be representing SuperValu and Cummings.
U.S. District Court case number: 3:08-1448