Construction company accused of wrongful termination

By Lhalie Castillo | Jun 17, 2016

BECKLEY — A Clay County resident is suing SMH Construction Inc., a construction company, citing alleged disability discrimination, violation of workers' compensation acts and wrongful termination.

BECKLEY — A Clay County resident is suing SMH Construction Inc., a construction company, citing alleged disability discrimination, violation of workers' compensation acts and wrongful termination.

Jeffrey Summers filed a complaint on May 31 in Raleigh Circuit Court against SMH Construction Inc. alleging that the construction company terminated the plaintiff's employment because of an injury he suffered from.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff alleges that on July 13, 2015, he acquired an injury to his lower back while he was operating a jackhammer. He received medical care, was placed on temporary total disability and filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits, he alleges, adding that he received medical treatment until Dec. 23, 2015 and was given permission to return to work. However, on grounds of a lack of work, plaintiff was given a notice that he was being laid off Dec. 28, 2015, he claims. The plaintiff says he later learned that the defendant called back the other laid-off employees except for him and also hired new workers, while the plaintiff received no offer to work for them again. The plaintiff holds SMH Construction Inc. responsible because the defendant allegedly terminated the plaintiff's employment due to his disability even though the West Virginia workers' compensation act clearly states that "an employer may not terminate an injured employee who is off work due to a compensable injury and is receiving benefits for a temporary injury" and that "an employer must reinstate an employee or place an employee on a preferential recall list upon notification that the employee has been released to return to work."

The plaintiff requests a trial by jury and seeks compensatory damages; emotional distress damages; punitive damages; attorney fees and costs; prejudgment interest on all amounts claimed; attorney costs expended in this matter; and such further relief as the court may find appropriate. He is represented by Richard W. Walters of Shaffer & Shaffer, PLLC in Charleston.

Raleigh Circuit Court Case number 16-c-348

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