BECKLEY – A lawsuit against Walgreens for alleged retaliation has been removed to federal court.
Walgreens removed the complaint to federal court, claiming the federal court has original jurisdiction under provisions of the U.S. Constitution, according to the April 6 notice of removal.
"A federal court is conferred with 'original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United States,'" the notice states. "'In cases where federal law creates the cause of action, the courts of the United States unquestionably have federal subject matter jurisdiction.'"
The lawsuit was initially filed against Walgreens and Ruann Fielder, an employee of Walgreens, on Feb. 19 in Raleigh Circuit Court.
In August 2011, Stacy J. Treadway provided a written statement and testimony for a store manager that had been dismissed from her position, regarding occurrences she witnessed while both were employees of Walgreens.
Treadway claims in January 2012, she was reprimanded for her sales percentage, department appearance and for attempting to call into work that same day for being ill even though she dod not and worked her entire scheduled shift.
Fielder advised Treadway that she knew that she had been up the night before until late hours because other employees saw a post she placed on Facebook and that she could "take it, or walk" so Treadway did not try to rebut her reprimand due to fear of losing her job, according to the suit.
Treadway claims a few weeks later she was once again reprimanded for not meeting her sales goal and on Feb. 28, 2013, she was shopping at Walgreens off the clock and with a friend and assisted her friend in getting answers to questions from the pharmacy.
When she returned to work the next scheduled shift, she was given a verbal warning for this incident and on March 2, 2013, she was again reprimanded for arriving late to work and staying after to make up the missed time without Fielder's permission, according to the suit.
Treadway claims Fielder continued to harass her and told her that her intentions were to fire her, which created a hostile working environment.
In early summer 2013, Treadway was working and doubled over with abdominal pain that sent her to the emergency room, according to the suit. On her next scheduled shift, she was pulled into the office and her health was discussed, as well as the fact that other employees did not want to work with her and no one was willing to help her, so she should consider stepping down and transferring the photo department.
Treadway claims she was told it was in her best interest and that the change would result in less stress, so she agreed.
The new position resulted in more hours and day, even working several days in a row without a day off, which caused Treadway to have increased stress, exhaustion, worry and frustration, according to the suit.
Treadway claims in January 2014, she suffered an injury and was taken off work for three days. When she went back to work, she was again reprimanded verbally regarding Walgreens' attendance policy and was told that she was unable to return to work and her physician placed her on Family Medical Leave Act leave.
While off on FMLA, she was asked to sign a HIPAA authorization release to allow Walgreens to obtain her medical records, at which time she refused, and her claim for short-term disability benefits was denied, according to the suit.
Treadway claims when she attempted to return to work, her hours were decreased so much that it forced her to find another job. She believes she was retaliated against for whistleblowing in 2011.
Treadway is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by Anthony M. Salvatore of Hewitt & Salvatore.
The defendants are being represented by Brian M. Peterson and Jessie F. Reckart of Bowles Rice LLP.
The case is assigned to Circuit Judge Irene C. Berger.
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number: 5:15-cv-04109