CLARKSBURG – Four former employees of Verizon in Clarksburg who accepted the company’s offer to resign have filed a lawsuit.

On Sept. 16, four women filed suit in Harrison County Circuit Court, alleging that Verizon did not timely pay them their accrued vacation pay and final wages in violation of the West Virginia Wage Payment and Collection Act.

The women seek to have the final wages paid to them multiplied by three as punishment.

The case was removed to U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia on Oct. 17. Verizon argues the claims are preempted by federal law – the Labor Management Relations Act.

“Even though no LMRA claims appear on the face of Plaintiffs’ complaint, the Supreme Court and Fourth Circuit apply the doctrine of complete preemption to permit removal to federal court whenever a claim can arguably be recast as an LMRA claim,” the removal notice says.

“Plaintiffs are former hourly employees and members of the collective bargaining unit represented by the Communication Workers of America local union. During Plaintiffs’ employment with Verizon, the terms and conditions of Plaintiffs’ employment (including wages and vacation) were governed by the collective bargaining agreement between Verizon and the CWA local union.

“This agreement is a ‘contract… between an employer and a labor organization representing employees in an industry affecting commerce’ within the meaning of… the LMRA.”

Verizon mailed invitations to various employees in March 2012 inviting them to resign in exchange for various benefits, the complaint says.

The four plaintiffs – Kimberly Kay DeFazio, Donna L. Hare, Georgianna F. Kintz and Tammy Grdgon – all accepted the invitation and notified Verizon no later than April 1, 2012, that they would resign two weeks later.

However, their final wages weren’t paid until April 20, the complaint says.

“Therefore, all of the plaintiffs gave Verizon at least one pay period of notice of their intention to quit,” the complaint says.

“As a result, Verizon was obligated to pay Plaintiffs for all earned compensation, including their vacation pay ‘at the time of quitting’ on April 14, 2012.”

The plaintiffs are represented by Drew M. Capuder of Capuder Fantasia in Fairmont.

The Verizon call center in Clarksburg is the subject of a class action that alleges violations of the state Human Rights Act and wrongful termination.

On Oct. 16, that case was remanded to Harrison Circuit Court by U.S. District Judge Irene Keeley.

From the West Virginia Record: Reach John O’Brien at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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