BECKLEY – A Lester man is suing over claims he was wrongfully terminated after a car accident caused the onset of a medical condition.

Russell Pooley filed the suit Dec. 21 in Raleigh Circuit Court against Wal-Mart Associates Inc. and Ramona Whitaker, citing violations of the West Virginia Human Rights Act.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff worked as a maintenance worker for the Walmart store in Raleigh County for nearly two years. In June 2014, he was involved in an automobile accident and subsequently was diagnosed with permanent ligamentous laxity, or loose ligaments. The condition can be brought on by a traumatic event to the body, such as a sports injury or car accident.

Following the accident, Walmart placed the plaintiff on medical leave from July 25, 2014, through Aug. 1, 2014. On Aug. 15, 2014, the plaintiff provided the store with a release to return to full duty work, even though he continued to have severe headaches and nausea.

On July 12, the complaint states, his supervisor told him the store manager, Whitaker, wanted the plaintiff fired for absenteeism. His supervisor further told him that he didn't want to terminate the plaintiff, but the defendant Whitaker emailed him that if he didn't fire the plaintiff, she would fire the supervisor, the suit states. Pooley was terminated that day, which he claims was pretextual.

In addition to a trial by jury, plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages, front pay, emotional distress damages, court costs and attorney fees. He is represented by Richard W. Walters of Shaffer & Shaffer PLLC of Charleston. The case has been assigned to Judge John A. Hutchinson.

Raleigh Circuit Court Case number 15-C-1024

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