CHARLESTON - A Putnam County man is suing General Glass Company Inc. after he claims he was discriminated against because of his age.
Lester Adkins has spent the past 30 years working in the glass industry, working as a glazier and initially began working for the defendant in 1998 and worked as a glazier for the defendant until 2005, according to a complaint filed Nov. 12 in Kanawha Circuit Court.
Adkins claims he worked for another employer for three years and then was offered a supervisory position of lead glazier or lead supervisor over all the defendant's glass installers in Charleston.
Adkins accepted the position in 2008 and worked as the lead glazier/lead supervisor until his termination in 2012, according to the suit.
Adkins claims at no time during his employment as lead glazier was he subjected to any disciplinary procedures and had never exhibited any problems with absenteeism.
The defendant's long-standing vacation policy required employees to take off an entire work week at a time, as opposed to approving a single day at a time and on April 18, 2012, the plaintiff requested vacation time running from June 11, 2012, to June 15, 2012, according to the suit.
Adkins claims his formal vacation request form was later approved by Cynthia Smith, the current president of General Glass, and on June 8, 2012, Adkins was to meet with his subordinate, Matt Boblett, and provide him with specific instructions and guidance concerning the work to be performed by the glass installers in the Charleston office.
Boblett was out of the office that day and was unable to receive the necessary instructions and consequently, Adkins was then required to come into the defendant's office on June 11, 2012, to provide Boblett with the necessary supervisory instructions, according to the suit.
Adkins claims he agreed to come during his prior scheduled and prior approved vacation time so as to make certain General Glass' operations would run smoothly during his absence and, after providing the instructions and guidance to Boblett, he resumed his vacation and took the remainder of the week off.
On June 18, 2012, Adkins returned to work at his normally scheduled work time and anticipated resuming his work duties as lead glazier, however, he was immediately confronted by Boblett and was advised that his employment was terminated because he had failed to report to work on June 12, 2012, despite having receiving formal authorization to be on vacation during that week, according to the suit.
Adkins claims he was also informed that his position had been filled with a younger employee who makes significantly less money in this position than he had earned.
After being terminated, he began taking affirmative steps to find a new position in the glass industry and contacted Mike Holt and Mike Mahoney with Central Glass to inquire as to whether their company had any present job openings, according to the suit.
Adkins claims he was informed by Holt and Mahoney that they had heard information directly from General Glass employees that he had been fired for failing to show up to work.
The statement from the defendant's employees was patently false and the defendant unfairly and improperly challenged Adkins' right to unemployment benefits under West Virginia law, according to the suit.
Adkins claims the immediate hiring/replacement of a younger, less costly lead glazier was a violation of the West Virginia Human Rights Act and discrimination against Adkins for his age.
Adkins is seeking compensatory damages with pre-judgment interest. He is being represented by David M. Adkins of the Adkins Law Firm PLLC.
The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Carrie Webster.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 13-C-2106