Man claims defamation during firing

By John O'Brien | Jul 20, 2006

CHARLESTON - A Charleston man says his former employer wrongfully terminated him and announced it was because he had a drug problem.

James Spears filed the lawsuit July 10 in Kanawha Circuit Court against Hughes Supply Inc., and two employees, Ronald Whitney and Chris Tudor, both of Charleston.

"Plaintiff was wrongfully terminated by the defendants under the pretext of a reduction in force in violation of West Virginia Code… as well as said termination being in violation of public policy," the complaint says.

Spears said he worked at Hughes Supply for more than 16 years until his termination July 11, 2005.

He adds that Tudor and Whitney both announced at a meeting that the reason for which he was fired as being a drug problem.

"Defendants' conduct is outrageous in said termination, causing the plaintiff to suffer humiliation and emotional distress," the complaint says.

He is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, claiming he has suffered lost wages, emotional distress, humiliation and out-of-pocket medical expenses as a result of losing his health insurance.

Charleston attorney Gregory Elliott is representing Spears.

Judge James Stucky has been assigned the case.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-1351

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