HUNTINGTON – A Cabell County man is suing over claims he was fired and his confidentiality breached after reporting suspected drug deals to the corporate owners of Rally's fast food restaurant.
Jerald Pullen filed a lawsuit Oct. 9 in Cabell Circuit Court against Checkers Drive-In Restaurants Inc.; Rallco Inc.; Rallco II Inc.; and Silvano D'Allesandri, an individual and Rallco vice president, citing retaliatory discharge.
According to the complaint, Pullen was employed as a cook by Rally's fast food restaurant, owned by Rallco and Checker's Drive-In, on Fifth Avenue in Huntington when he reported to an assistant manager and the general manager that illegal drug transactions were being conducted on the premises, in the parking lot and at the drive-through window.
Pullen says he was told it wasn't his business and not to worry about it, and he subsequently learned the activity involved the assistant manager to whom he had reported the incident. The complaint states Pullen witnessed one employee enter the premises, indicate that he had a gun and tell his coworkers "there would be trouble" if they did not find something he had dropped.
On other occasions, the complaint states, Pullen witnessed a group of men repeatedly coming to the restaurant to find a female employee they said had shorted them on a previous transaction. This same female employee, Pullen says, had been seen counting prescription pills on the fast food restaurant's counter.
According to the lawsuit, when Pullen's complaints to the assistant and general managers went unanswered, he called a complaint line for employees and non-employees to make confidential complaints on Sept. 4.
Pullen says when he showed up for work the following day, his general manager fired him and showed him the email he had received from D'Allesandri about the complaint he'd made, which had, obviously, not been kept confidential.
The lawsuit states the general manager told Pullen there had been a vote on whether to fire Pullen, including the assistant manager and D'Allesandri, but the general manager was the only one to vote to keep the plaintiff, so D'Allesandri instructed him to terminate Pullen's employment.
No other reason was given for termination, according to the suit. The defendants are accused of retaliatory discharge – whistleblower and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Pullen seeks compensatory and punitive damages for lost wages and emotional distress, including fear for his life, as his identity was revealed to at least one suspected drug dealer.
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 Christopher D. Chiles.
Cabell Circuit Court case number: 14-C-735