CHARLESTON -- A former employee is suing Maxim Crane Works after he claims his employment was wrongfully terminated.

Jon Asbury, another employee of Maxim, was also named as a defendant in the suit.

On Aug. 20, 2010, James R. Morris was wrongfully discharged from his employment based upon a perceived disability and upon his age, according to a complaint filed Feb. 16 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Morris claims his employment was terminated allegedly for using a company fuel card, however he claims he had been given permission to use the fuel card by the regional vice president, Dave Barnett in 2008.

On Aug. 16, 2010, Barnett was visiting Maxim Crane Works and saw two prescription medication bottles of Morris' desk and despite Morris' assurance that his doctor had cleared him to work on the prescriptions, which were for an old neck injury unrelated to work and for anxiety, he was told he was not allowed to work until he obtained a release from "a doctor of Maxim's choosing," according to the suit.

Morris claims the next day he reported to the occupational health facility for a drug screen and made an appointment to meet with a doctor the following week.

On Aug. 20, 2010, prior to Morris' appointment with the doctor, he was told over the phone that he was to meet with the senior vice president that day to discuss short-term disability, according to the suit.

Morris claims minutes after the conversation, he attempted to call his wife using his company cell phone, only to discover the phone service had been disconnected.

During the meeting with the senior vice president, Morris was told he was being terminated for use of the company fuel card and was also told he should "not apply for unemployment benefits since he was being fired for misconduct," according to the suit.

Morris claims following his discharge, Maxim replaced him with Asbury, who is substantially younger than he is.

Morris is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. He is being represented by Constance H. Weber and Erin J. Webb.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Pail Zakaib Jr.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 11-C-258

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