Putnam man sues Alpha for wrongful termination

By Kyla Asbury | Oct 30, 2012

CHARLESTON -- A Putnam County man is suing Alpha Natural Resources Services, LLC, after he claims his employment was wrongfully terminated when he attempted to return after having surgery.

Jeremy Hall and Elk Run Coal Company, Inc., which is doing business as Republic Energy, were also named as defendants in the suit.

In March 2011, Terry Summers was hired by Republic Energy as a roof bolter and sometime prior to Jan. 20, he suffered a non-job related injury to his neck that required surgery, according to a complaint filed Sept. 20 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Summers claims his surgery was scheduled for Feb. 20 and prior to leaving work, he filled out Family and Medical Leave Act forms, short-term disability forms and forms required by Met Life for temporary leave. He claims he had his physician also fill out forms required by Met Life for his temporary leave.

On Jan. 20, Summers took off work to have his required surgery and at the time, he had accrued three weeks of paid vacation time, according to the suit.

Summers claims during the entire period of time he was off work, he kept in contact with Hall and Human Resources personnel from Republic Energy and following the surgery, he was released by his physician without any limitations on his activities in July.

On July 12, Summers contacted Hall to inquire as to when he could start back to work, according to the suit, and Hall responded that he would have to call the office to determine when he could return to work.

Summers claims following the phone call with Hall, he repeatedly called him without response until Aug. 13, despite the fact that he had applied for short-term disability, filled out all FMLA paperwork and had kept in contact with Hall and Human Resources, his employment was terminated.

The reason given for Summers for his termination was that he was “‘automatically fired’ for being off work for six months or more,” according to the suit.

Summers claims the defendants discriminated against and caused him to suffer lost wages and benefits; out-of-pocket losses; severe emotional and mental distress; humiliation; anxiety; embarrassment; depression; aggravation; annoyance; and inconvenience.

Summers is seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. He is being represented by Mark L. French and Matthew S. Criswell.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge James C. Stucky.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 12-C-1911

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