Man says he was fired after exhausting FMLA

By Kelly Holleran | Sep 30, 2014

CHARLESTON – A man alleges he lost his job after suffering from numerous difficulties, including the death of his girlfriend and the leg amputation of his brother.

David Langford filed a lawsuit Aug. 21 in Kanawha Circuit Court against Appalachian Power Company of Roanoke, Va., Debra Tygrett and Mark Dempsey.

In his complaint, Langford alleges he has been working for defendant Appalachian Power Company since June 3, 1980. On Aug 7, 2011, he underwent an anterior double spinal fusion surgery and was off work under the Family and Medical Leave Act for six months, according to the complaint.

On Oct. 11, 2011, Langford's girlfriend died in a drunk driving accident, the suit states.

In January 2012, Langford returned to work, the complaint says. On Feb. 23, 2012, Langford's brother underwent an amputation of his left leg.

In June 2012, Langford self-reported to Dempsey's doctor, seeking assistance to stop taking pain medication, according to the complaint.

Langford again went on leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act after undergoing right knee replacement surgery, the suit states. During his 2012 performance review, he was downgraded to a lower level with no merit increase due to his failing to meet expectations, which was caused by too much time off work, the complaint says.

On Jan. 17, 2013, Langford alleges he underwent left knee replacement and was off work for the following eight days.

On Aug. 19, 2013, his brother died. On Oct. 23, 2013, Langford sustained an injury to his left rotator cuff after falling on concrete, the suit states.

On Nov. 23, 2013, Langford was charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing an officer, the complaint says. He was arraigned for the offenses Jan. 14, 2014, and was told that if he stayed out of trouble for 90 days, the charges would be dismissed.

On Jan. 27, Langford was out of work for seven days after undergoing surgery on his left rotator cuff, the suit states. On April 9, he lost strength in both legs and checked into the emergency room April 10 for a spinal injection, the complaint says.

On April 15 and April 17, he underwent a two-part spinal fusion surgery, he alleges.

On May 14, Langford received a letter stating that his Family and Medical Leave Act time had expired and that he had been place on regular sick leave.

Langford alleges he lost his job May 20 due to his disabilities.

"The defendant stated the reason for the termination was the misdemeanors plaintiff was charged with in late November 2013, despite the fact that those charges were later dismissed," the suit states. "This reason was purely pretextual."

Because of his job loss, Langford lost wages and benefits, suffered severe emotional and mental distress, endured humiliation, anxiety, embarrassment, depression, aggravation, annoyance and inconvenience, the suit states.

He seeks a permanent injunction against Appalachian Power Company, ordering it to establish on-going training programs for employees regarding discrimination. He also seeks front pay, compensatory damages, out-of-pocket losses, punitive damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Matthew S. Criswell and Mark L. French of Criswell French in Charleston will represent him.

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

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 14-C-1507

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