HUNTINGTON -– A man has filed suit against Sears and one of its managers, claiming he was forced to resign as a manager with the store after it allegedly refused to accommodate his physical disabilities.
James Andrew Scott claims he began working at Sears in the Barboursville Mall in September 2006 as a merchandise customer assistant supervisor.
One month later, during October 2006, Scott began to experience significant problems with his legs, according to the complaint filed July 20 in Cabell Circuit Court.
He sought medical care, but it was not until June 1, 2007, that he was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis, a disorder that causes excessive blood clotting in the legs, the suit states.
Meanwhile, in February 2007, Scott was promoted to assistant store manager in training and was told he would remain in training for three months. Throughout his training, Scott would rotate throughout four Sears's departments –- clothes, shoes, hardlines and human resources. He was promised a salary of $37,500 per year, according to the complaint.
However, about two weeks after Scott's training began, his salary was reduced to $36,500 per year, the suit states. He also did not rotate through the Auto Center department, as he was initially told he was supposed to, the complaint says.
Scott claims he remained in the trainee program for more than one year, while other non-handicapped individuals were promoted to permanent management positions.
However, during his training, Scott was forced to be off work for about one month –- from June 2007 through July 2007, according to the complaint.
Upon his return to work, Scott began working at the Ashland Sears, the suit states.
On Aug. 18, 2007, Scott received a letter from Ashland's store manager, Kenneth Pedrick, that informed Scott he was not allowed to continue working at the Ashland store. He was permitted to either return to his assigned training location in Barboursville, to accept a position of home improvement lead in the Ashland store or to resign, the complaint says.
Scott said he had no option but to return to the Barboursville training store.
But upon his return to the store, Sears's employees refused to accommodate Scott's disability, according to the complaint.
Barboursville store manager and defendant William Hagy was aware of Scott's disability and the store's refusals to accommodate him, but did nothing to prevent it, the suit states.
So, in an effort to retain employment with Sears in an environment that would accommodate his disability, Scott applied for a corporate position in Cincinnati as a visual merchandising manager, the complaint says.
However, Hagy informed Scott he was not allowed to apply for the position, he claims.
"No explanation was offered as to the reason Plaintiff was not permitted to apply for the position, but, upon information and belief, it was based upon Defendants' perception that the Plaintiff was disabled and/or the fact of Plaintiff's disability," the suit states.
Scott claims Sears and Hagy have violated the West Virginia Human Rights Act.
He is seeking damages for mental and emotional distress, lost wages and the value of lost benefits, plus punitive damages and other relief the court deems just.
He is represented by Walt Auvil of Rusen and Auvil in Parkersburg. The case is assigned to Judge F. Jane Hustead.
Cabell Circuit Court case number: 09-C-636