Former employee says church wrongly fired him

CHARLESTON -- A former employee is suing First Presbyterian Church after he claims he was retaliated against for reporting theft by another employee to business administrators.

Ricky Edward Jordan was employed by the defendant from Aug. 12, 2011 until June 18, according to a complaint filed Sept. 13 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Jordan claims over the course of several months he witnessed his head supervisor, Lee Richardson, removing items from the Covenant House store room, taking them to his vehicle and concealing them with a blanket.

The theft became common knowledge among First Presbyterian employees, according to the suit, and Jordan received warnings from several co-workers not to report the theft.

Jordan claims however, in December 2011, he reported the theft to Covenant House employee Claude Churchwell, who indicated he would investigate the matter.

In February and March, Jordan again witnessed Richardson taking items from the Covenant House store room and he spoke to Churchwell’s supervisor, Randy Elsea, as he was uncertain if Churchwell had handled the issue, according to the suit.

Jordan claims he was informed that Churchwell had spoke to business administrators and that they had promised to look into the matter.

On June 18, Jordan was permanently suspended and was advised his suspension was due to budget issues, however, several employees advised him he had been terminated for reporting the theft, according to the suit.

Jordan claims in July he spoke to a current First Presbyterian employee who told him that Jackie Lilly, a business administrator, had advised employees that she knew Jordan would get an attorney and that if anyone spoke to him they would be fired.

The defendant’s conduct in terminating Jordan’s employment was in retaliation for reporting the instances of theft and constitutes a direct violation of the substantial public policy under state law, according to the suit.

Jordan claims the defendant’s conduct has caused him to suffer lost wages and benefits; out-of-pocket losses; severe emotional and mental distress; humiliation; anxiety; embarrassment; depression; aggravation; annoyance and inconvenience.

As a result of the defendant’s willful, wanton and reckless conduct, Jordan has suffered other damages as well, according to the suit.

Jordan is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. He is being represented by Matthew S. Criswell, Mark L. French and Steven M. Condaras.

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

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 12-C-1859

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