WHEELING – A man says Bayer wrongly discriminated against him by refusing to help him find an appropriate job after he was forced to quit working at its New Martinsville facility due to a persistent cough.

Samuel P. Cerra filed a lawsuit Nov. 4 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia against Bayer MaterialScience.
The 62-year-old Cerra claims he began working for Bayer on Oct. 19, 1998, as a production technician at its New Martinsville facility.

But he was forced to quit working at the plant on June 22, 2004, because of a persistent cough he developed, which was later diagnosed as hypersensitivity pneumonitis. In other words, the cough was caused by an inflammation in Cerra's lungs caused by an allergic reaction to organic dust and chemicals he inhaled while working, according to the complaint.

Still, Cerra wanted to continue his employment with Bayer, but because of his condition was not allowed to return to work at the New Martinsville plant, the suit states.

So Cerra provided Bayer with a copy of his resume and a cover letter and asked the company to consider him for any available positions where he would be allowed to work, the complaint says.

Numerous requests that Bayer provide Cerra with information on jobs and provide him a reasonable accommodation proved to be unsuccessful.
Because of the company's failure to provide Cerra with work, he says it is discriminating against him.

"Throughout Plaintiff's employment Defendant Bayer engaged in a continuous and ongoing pattern of unlawful discrimination against Plaintiff based upon his disability/perceived disability," the suit states.

As a result, Cerra suffered mental anguish, depression and emotional strain, lost his income and benefits, was deprived of the ordinary pleasures of life and lost sleep, the complaint says. In addition, he claims he suffered humiliation and embarrassment and his career has been curtailed and sabotaged.

Cerra is seeking a judgment of more than $75,000, plus actual, consequential, compensatory and punitive damages, costs, attorney's fees and other relief the court deems just.

R. Noel Foreman of Schrader, Byrd and Companion in Wheeling will be representing him.

U.S. District Court case number: 5:09-cv-118

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