MORGANTOWN – An employee is suing West Virginia University after he claims it has threatened him with termination of employment because he smokes.
West Virginia University Board of Governors is also named as a defendant in the suit.
Dennis Cole is a research assistant for the Sensory Neuroscience Research Center at the Health Science Center and has worked there for the past 23 years, according to a complaint filed May 13 in Monongalia Circuit Court.
Cole claims on June 7, 2012, the BOG enacted the version of Policy 57, which was effective on July 1, 2013, and broadly prohibits the use of any form of tobacco on WVU property and on properties not owned or under the control of WVU or the BOG, and purports to empower WVU Campus Police with authority superseding that of other law enforcement agencies, in attempting to prevent lawful activity on property not owned or under the control of WVU or the BOG.
Policy 57 permits the termination of WVU employees, and the expulsion of WVU students, who use any form of tobacco products on property not owned or under the control of WVU or the BOG and directs the harassment of WVU employees, students and others on the same properties, according to the suit.
Cole claims he smokes cigars on property not controlled, owned, leased or occupied by WVU or the BOG, but over which WVU and the BOG seek to assert dominion under Policy 57.
The plaintiff has been threatened with the termination of his employment for engaging in the legal act of using a tobacco product on property not controlled, owned, leased or occupied by WVU or the BOG, in violation of West Virginia code, according to the suit
Cole is seeking for the court to enter an order permanently enjoining WVU and the BOG from enforcement of Poicy 57. He is being represented by P. Todd Phillips of P. Todd Phillips & Associates.
Monongalia Circuit Court case number: 15-C-312