Woman says she was wrongly fired by Verizon

By Cara Bailey | Dec 29, 2006

CHARLESTON -- A Kanawha County woman claims she was wrongfully terminated from her job at Verizon Services.

Vickie Webb was fired April 10, 2006, for absenteeism after she had to leave suddenly.

Webb claims she had been suffering from a variety of stress-related illnesses, including periodic depression and severe anxiety, since 2004. Since then, she has received counseling, and periodically been late to work, or missed work, "as she attempted to cope with her symptoms," the court case says.

A minor controversy arose at the workplace April 7, 2006, after which Webb had a strong anxiety reaction.

The suit says Webb then inquired if she could miss work and not be charged with an absence. She was told any absence would be charged, but she could apply for short-term disability.

"Webb left a message with Tammy Moore, an employee of Verizon, explaining she had to leave work and was applying for short-term disability," the suit says. "She then called her treating psychiatrist for an appointment and left the workplace."

Although her request was not approved, she left to "avoid any other problems at work and to deal with the stress."

On April 10, 2006, Webb returned to work and left during the day to go to an appointment with her treating psychiatrist. After returning, her employers asked to meet with her, and during the meeting Webb was fired for absenteeism, stemming from the April 7 incident.

Webb claims the firing is in violation of the West Virginia Human Rights Act.

Webb claims that even though the reason for the firing was poor attendance, "the poor attendance and, in particular, the triggering absence, clearly related to her disability, for which she was taking various medications and receiving regular psychological counseling."

Therefore, Webb believes she was fired because of her disability.

The suit, filed by Charleston attorney Lonnie C. Simmons, seeks full reinstatement to Webb's position as a service representative, as well as compensatory and punitive damages. The suit also states Webb is "entitled to a substantial award of punitive damages so that these defendants and other employers around the country will not similarly discriminate against employees suffering from devastation and debilitating diseases."

The suit has been assigned to Judge Irene Berger.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-2670

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