Former employee accuses Lowe's of discrimination, wrongful termination

By Kyla Asbury | Oct 13, 2011

CHARLESTON -- A former employee is suing Lowe's Home Centers after he claims he was discriminated against because of his Indian decent and his employment was wrongfully terminated.

Jeff Lasater, an employee of Lowe's, was also named as a defendant in the suit.

Tushar T. Shah was employed by Lowe's from April 19, 2001, until March 19, according to a complaint filed Sept. 19 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Shah claims in September 2008, he was transferred from the Lowe's store in Columbus, Ohio, to Kanawha City as an assistant manager.

Prior to transfer, Shah has always been an outstanding and loyal Lowe's employee, and upon arriving at the Kanawha City Lowe's, Shah noticed that all upper management at the store were Caucasian, according to the suit.

Shah claims shortly after arriving, other managers began to mock him in regard to his appearance and national origin, including Joe Helmick, an assistant manger, continuously making comments that he looked like a terrorist.

Lowe's Loss Prevention Manager Lori Keaton said she couldn't believe Shah had a white wife, according to the complaint. Operations Manager Connie Lieving said she could not speak "Shah," according to the suit.

Former Store Manager Bill Fletcher called Shah a "nigger," according to the suit. District manager George Cox said "individuals with plaintiff's ethnicity and culture had problems having relationships with women," according to the complaint.

Shah claims on two occasions, his vehicle was vandalized at work and despite complaints, nothing was done to stop the discrimination.

In order to terminate Shah's employment, "management at the Lowe's store in Kanawha City began to make false accusations" against him, according to the suit.

Shah claims on March 15, Lasater forwarded e-mails to him, which detailed problems with the measurable metrics at the store and told him he was ill and would be going home for the day.

Lasater directed Shah to address the problems in the e-mail during the weekly Tuesday morning staff meeting while he was gone, but within a few hours, Lasater returned to work, according to the suit.

Shah claims on March 19, Lasater terminated Shah's employment, stating the reason was because he carried out the office meeting and had shared information in the e-mail.

The defendants were negligent and discriminated against Shah because of his national origin, which is in violation of the West Virginia Human Rights Act, according to the suit.

Shah is seeking reinstatement and compensatory and punitive damages. He is being represented by J. Michael Ranson, Cynthia M. Ranson and George B. Morrone III.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Carrie Webster.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 11-C-1650

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