Former employee sues BJ Services, others for unlawful termination

By Kyla Asbury | Apr 8, 2010

CHARLESTON -- A former employee is suing BJ Services Company, its operations supervisor and its district manager for unlawful termination.

Frederick L. Null was employed as a driver/truck operator and in August 2007 he injured his shoulder and was out of work on workers' compensation for several weeks, according to a complaint filed March 12 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Null was told that "in order to work at BJ Services he had to be at 100 percent and that there was no room for injuries," according to the suit.

In June 2008, Null received a verbal counseling for two alleged seat beat infractions and one cell phone infraction, but claims that from that time until his termination he received no other discipline or notification of infractions.

In February 2009, BJ Services laid-off 25 workers, but not Null. Afterward, James Edwards, the district manager, addressed most of the remaining employees at a safety meeting that the lay-offs were determined by corporate after reviewing employee evaluations, attendance records and work ethics, according to the suit.

Null claims in March or April 2009, he notified the defendants that his workers' compensation injury was getting worse and his physician said he needed further surgery.

On April 24, 2009, before Null began his shift, he took a note from his physician and presented it to the defendants indicating he needed to be off for four to nine months for a further operation on his shoulder, according to the suit.

Null claims he spoke with Phil Urlacker, the operations supervisor, and then left to begin his shift. He claims approximately one hour later he was told to meet with Urlacker and Edwards.

Null claims he was read a list of infractions, some of which were approximately two years old, and others of which he had never been informed of. He claims he was given no opportunity to respond and that after reading the list of infractions, his employment was terminated.

Null is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. He is being represented by Mary M. Downey.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Charles King.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 10-C-480

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