CHARLESTON – A Verizon employee has sued the company in connection with him being suspended from his job last year.

Mike Spurgeon, who lives in Kanawha County, filed the lawsuit Jan. 6 in Kanawha Circuit Court. The suit lists Verizon Services Corporation, Verizon West Virginia Inc. and Michelle Meno, his supervisor, as defendants.

In the suit, filed by Charleston attorneys Lonnie C. Simmons and Heather M. Langeland, Spurgeon says he began working for Verizon in 1996 as a telemarketing representative. By 199, he was a service order administrator.

On Nov. 30, 2000, Spurgeon was fired "as a result of absences that were related to panic disorders he suffered." He filed a suit over the firing, and it was settled in 2004. He then returned to work and still works for Verizon, the suit says.

In the suit, Spurgeon says terms of that settlement agreement are confidential and can't be discussed in the unsealed complaint. However, he asserts that in certain respects, Verizon violated the terms of settlement.

Following his return to work in 2004, Spurgeon claims Verizon began charging him with chargeable absences under their Regional Attendance Program, which should not have been chargeable under the settlement or the West Virginia Human Rights Act.

On April 15, 2005, Meno had an attendance discussion with Spurgeon and told him he was being advanced to Step 3 of the RAP plan and placed on a five-day suspension without pay.

Spurgeon claims the suspension was wrong, was retaliatory and was in violation of the West Virginia Human Rights Act.

He says he is a "qualified individual with a disability" according to the Human Rights Act and that his absences were a result of his disability.

Spurgeon also claims the defendants failed to accommodate his disability, which is another violation of the Human Rights Act, which says the defendants were obligated to make reasonable accommodations for the plaintiff's disability to enable him to remain in the position for which he was hired.

As a result of the suspension, Spurgeon says he has suffered numerous compensatory damages, including past lost wages, annoyance and inconvenience, embarrassment, humiliation, emotional distress and expenses, including attorney fees.

He seeks compensatory damages as well as an order requiring the defendants to follow the West Virginia Human Rights Act. He also seeks punitive damages in an amount sufficient to ensure that such actions are not repeated and in accordance with state law. He also seeks other relief and requests a jury trial.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Irene Berger.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 06-C-20

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