Former employee calls Southern States deceptive

By Kyla Asbury | Apr 30, 2015

HUNTINGTON – A former employee is suing Southern States after she claims it was deceptive and caused her to be unemployed.

Southern States Cooperative Inc., Southern States Huntington Cooperative Inc. and Douglas A. Horne were all named as defendants in the suit.

Linda K. Forbush was hired by the defendants in June 1997, and Horne failed to complete the proper paperwork when she was hired, which resulted in her having an initial hire date of Oct. 20, 1997, according to a complaint initially filed March 9 in Cabell Circuit Court and removed to federal court on April 14.

Forbush claims as a result of the negligent, reckless and willful acts of Horne, Forbush lost one month of seniority, which resulted in her having lose one-half a week of severance pay when the Huntington store was closed.

On July 29, Forbush received a call that the Huntington store was being permanently closed and she was offered a job working at the employer of the person initiating the telephone call. On July 31, Forbush met with the individual to discuss the possibility of employment, according to the suit.

Forbush claims on Aug. 1, she had a short conversation with Horne and advised him about the job offer and the opportunity for her to obtain employment if the store were truly closing.

Horne inquired as to when she was expected to start the new job and Forbush advised him that she had some latitude regarding a start date and then she inquired about her vacation time, which she was told she would lose, but that Horne would inquire about it further.

Forbush claims on Aug. 6, she again inquired of Horne regarding her vacation time and was then advised that if she quit and did not provide two weeks' notice, it would be considered abandonment and that she would lose all of her vacation time.

Horne also advised Forbush that if she gave two weeks' notice, she would get one week of vacation time, according to the suit.

Forbush claims she advised Horne she still had 15 days, plus a few more hours of vacation time left and Horne advised her that he had a form for her to sign in his office.

When Forbush entered Horne's office, she was provided with a resignation form, which she did not sign, and requested to take the form home with her to think about the situation, according to the suit.

Forbush claims Horne agreed and provided her with the telephone number of Jim Bridewell, the regional manager.

Bridewell advised Forbush that Horne should have worked with her to resolve the issues presented and stated that he did not understand why Horne did not do so, according to the suit.

Forbush claims on Aug. 8, she requested and met with Horne, and stated that she had no decided to leave Southern States, but that she wanted to explore her options and Horne advised her twice during the meeting that she was leaving her job based on a rumor that the Huntington store was closing.

On Aug. 10, Forbush contacted the individual who had offered her employment and declined the offer, according to the suit. Forbush then contacted Horne and advised him she was remaining at Southern States and that she would be taking a week's vacation and would be back on Aug. 18.

Forbush claims Horne failed to advise the office staff of her vacation and when questioned, he acted as if he knew nothing about it.

On Aug. 26, several of the board members appeared at the Huntington store and Bridewell announced to the employees that the store was being closed and instructed them to gather their personal effects and turn in their store key, according to the suit.

Forbush claims the defendants embarked on a course of conduct that was deceptive and resulted in her being unemployed, without work and with a total loss of earned income.

Forbush is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by Michael Paesani of Michael Paesani PLLC.

The case is assigned to District Judge Robert C. Chambers.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number: 3:15-cv-04498

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