CHARLESTON — A former employee is suing the Shoney's Restaurant in Charleston after she was allegedly injured while working.

Catherine Cunningham began working at the restaurant in 1985 and at the time of her accident she was the assistant manager of the restaurant, according to a complaint filed Jan. 19 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

On Dec. 10, 2008, Cunningham claims she slipped and fell near the salad bar on oil that was spilled the night before and not cleaned up, causing her to injure her left knee. She claims no one was available to cover her shift, so she stayed at work and went to the emergency room after she completed her shift.

On Dec. 16, Dr. H.S. Ramesh, a pain management physician, said Cunningham could return to work the following day, but only with "modified duty of lifting, pushing or pulling no more than 10 pounds," according to the suit.

Cunningham claims despite the physician's directions and her requests, Shoney's did not provide her with a sit-down job when she returned, but because she needed to continue receiving income, she was forced to work on her feet as she had before her injury.

Cunningham claims due to the extra stress from working on her feet and not being given the correct accommodations, her ACL was "effectively not existent" when Dr. David Ede, an orthopedic surgeon, attempted to repair it during surgery on May 27.

Ede had to take a portion of Cunningham's hamstring and completely reconstruct her ACL, according to the suit. Cunningham received workers' compensatory benefits for temporary partial disability until she was cleared by Ede on Dec. 7.

Cunningham claims Shoney's would not let her return to her previous position when she came back to work and instead offered her a position as a server or a dishwasher at the same location, other lower-paying positions at another location, or a comparable position at a Shoney's Restaurant more than 100 miles round trip from her residence and prior work location.

Cunningham is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for pain and suffering, violation of the West Virginia Human Rights Act, and discriminatory action in retaliation for receiving Workers' Compensation benefits. She is being represented by Kevin Baker and Sarah K. Brown.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Charles King.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 10-C-0096

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