CHARLESTON -- A former employee is suing Dismas Charities after he claims his employment was wrongfully terminated.

Wendi Easton, a supervisor at Dismas Charities, was also named as a defendant in the suit.

Heath A. Cline was employed by Dismas Charities from Aug. 25, 2009, until April 30, 2010, in its food service operations at the Kanawha County location, according to a complaint filed Feb. 10 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

On April 2, 2010, Cline claims he took leave for his annual three-week drill with the Army Reserves. He returned on April 30, 2010, but was not supposed to go back to work until May 3, 2010.

Upon his return, Cline claims he was accused of stealing food from the company and told he could either "quit or be subject to a formal investigation."

Since Cline had not stolen anything, he immediately requested a full investigation, according to the suit.

Cline claims Easton alleged there was an employee who would corroborate her allegations that he had stolen food. He claims the witness was never identified and to his knowledge, no formal investigation was ever initiated.

The defendant advised Cline that he would be contacted when he could return to work when the investigation was completed, according to the suit.

After several days, Cline was not called, so he filed for unemployment under the assumption that he had been fired, according to the suit.

Cline claims the defendants contested the claim for unemployment benefits alleging that he had failed to return to work.

At the hearing, a Dismas Charities representative alleged that Cline had not responded to company phone calls, according to the suit, but when challenged on this allegation, the defendant was unable to produce any evidence that the phone calls were ever made.

Cline claims the accusation that he had stolen food was a "pretextual excuse used in an attempt to make him quit as a result of his obligation to the Army Reserves." He claims prior to leaving for his three-week Army Reserves drill, he had never been subject to any disciplinary action.

Cline is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. He is being represented by J.B. Akers.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Carrie Webster.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 11-C-228

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