UPDATE: This case was dismissed with prejudice on Aug. 1, 2011. Both parties submitted a joint filing to do so after a confidential settlement was reached.
HUNTINGTON -- A Huntington couple is suing the Robert C. Byrd Institute for wrongful termination of employment.
Erica Cheetham, Rick Martin and Charlotte Weber were also named as defendants in the suit.
On April 6, 2009, Gary Grindley began working for RCBI and claims he was never provided with a job description or any goals or objectives, according to a complaint filed June 24 in Cabell Circuit Court.
On May 1, 2009, a conference call was conducted by Weber, the director and CEO of RCBI, and included Grindley and Cheetham.
Grindley claims following the conference call, he became concerned about working for RCBI because during the conference call, Weber publicly reprimanded Cheetham and threatened to terminate her employment.
Over the next few months, Grindley became increasingly wary about working for RCBI because Weber would call him nearly every day to discuss the possible termination and replacement of Cheetham, who was his supervisor, according to the suit.
Grindley claims Weber's unprofessional conduct caused him to have increasing levels of anxiety and the dysfunctional environment in which he was forced to work in daily "came to a head following an e-mail sent ..." to Martin on Aug. 21, 2009.
Grindley claims he sent Martin an e-mail requesting additional work and informed Martin that he was eager to stay busy and make himself useful. He claims he could not anticipate the negative response he received from the e-mail.
On Aug. 28, 2009, a meeting was held regarding the e-mail and included Grindley, Martin and Cheetham. The meeting was a "hostile and threatening meeting," during which Martin told Grindley "to start looking for another job," according to the suit.
Grindley claims Martin was angry that he had communicated to him rather than to Cheetham and demanded him to decided if he wanted to continue reporting to Cheetham or if he wanted to start looking for a new job.
Later that day Grindley was informed by Weber that the classes he was to begin teaching in three days ha been canceled, according to the suit, which caused Grindley to go into shock and begin experiencing debilitating anxiety and chest pain, which forced him to take Nitro Glycerin for the first time in more than one year.
On Aug. 31, 2009, Grindley claims Weber held a meeting with him and made false accusations and threats toward him.
On Sept. 1, 2009, Grindley went to see him primary care physician, who was concerned about his condition and declared him to be temporarily and totally disabled and took him off of work from Sept. 2 until Sept. 23, according to the suit.
Grindley claims he regardless of the fact that he was off work per his physician's orders and seeking psychological treatment, Weber sent him a letter dated Sept. 15, 2009, terminating his employment.
The defendants engaged in conduct that was outrageous, reckless, willful, wanton and malicious, according to the suit.
Grindley and his wife, Susanne Johnson-Grindley, are seeking compensatory and punitive damages. They are being represented by J. Patrick L. Stephens and Mark F. Underwood.
The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge David M. Pancake.
Cabell Circuit Court case number: 10-C-457