CHARLESTON – A U.S. Army Reserves officer and former employee is suing Columbia Pipeline Group Services Company after he claims his employment was terminated because he needed to undergo required Reserves training.

On July 5, 2013, Paul Phillips started working for the defendant as a project planner and during the course of his employment, he performed his duties in a satisfactory manner and met the reasonable expectations of the defendant, according to a complaint filed in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Phillips claims at the time of his employment he was also an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve and had just completed an extended period of active duty. The defendant was aware that Phillips was a member of the U.S. Army Reserve at the time that he was hired.

In September and October 2013, Phillips was recalled to active duty for a short period of time to act as investigating officer of a sexual assault case and no objections were raised by the defendant to Phillips' absence, according to the suit.

Phillips claims after returning from the January 2014 exercise, he advised his supervisor that he would have to be away from an extended period of time to attend a war exercise in Wisconsin from March 22 until April 10, plus an additional four weeks of training for logistics officers to be conducted in Virginia.

Upon learning of the extended absence for required training, Phillips' supervisor told him that while he was aware of his need for annual training, nothing had been said about other extended absences for training and the time away from his employment because of it, according to the suit.

Phillips claims on Feb. 1, 2014, the defendant unlawfully, willfully and maliciously terminated his employment.

The defendant violated substantial public policy and caused Phillips to suffer lost wages and benefits, according to the suit.

Phillips is seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. He is being represented by Larry O. Ford of Meyer, Ford, Glasser & Radman PLLC.

The case is assigned to Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 14-C-2253

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