Nursing home cook says he was wrongly fired

By Annie Cosby | Nov 24, 2014

BECKLEY – A Raleigh County man is suing over claims he was fired for not showing up for work on days he was out with a work-related injury.

Lee A. Thomas filed a lawsuit Oct. 17 in Raleigh Circuit Court against Genesis Healthcare and Sunbridge Beckley Health Care Corp., doing business as, citing workers' compensation discrimination.

According to the complaint, Thomas was employed as a cook at Pine Lodge, or Sunbridge, a subsidiary of Genesis, on Jan. 20, when he was injured and filed for workers' compensation, which a claim handler approved. Thomas says he was released by his doctor to return to work March 21 but that day he experienced recurring symptoms and pain related to his injury and sought treatment after work.

The complaint states a nurse wrote to Sunbridge excusing Thomas from work the next two days, and workers' compensation readily paid for his medical treatment that weekend. Thomas says when he returned to work March 25, the secretary informed him he was not scheduled and needed to speak with human resources.

Thomas says that after several unsuccessful attempts to contact the human resources manager, he returned to work the next day, when the secretary again told him to speak with human resources about his schedule.

The complaint states Thomas tried, unsuccessfully, to contact the manager, but on March 27, he received a letter of termination, citing his absence from work March 22 and 23 as the reason for termination, but calling it a "voluntary resignation."

According to the lawsuit, that letter described a failure to show up for work as a voluntary resignation and stated Thomas was ineligible for rehire.

The defendants are accused of workers' compensation discrimination.

Thomas seeks compensatory and punitive damages, including lost wages and benefits, front pay and attorney fees.

He is represented by attorneys James D. McQueen Jr. and Ralph J. Hagy of McQueen Davis in Huntington. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge John A. Hutchison.

Raleigh Circuit Court case number: 14-C-991

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