CHARLESTON – A man is suing Patriot Coal after he claims it wrongfully terminated his employment.
Speed Mining was also named as a defendant in the suit.
Dallas Lesher began working for the defendants in August 2013 performing maintenance work for underground mining, according to a complaint filed in Kanawha Circuit Court.
Lesher claims he had previously injured his back working for a different company and he went to doctor’s appointments and received injections for pain on occasion.
When Lesher had a doctor’s appointment, he always notified the defendants and brought in a doctor’s excuse, which was compliant with the defendants’ company policies, according to the suit.
Lesher claims on Jan. 23, 2015, he approached his manager explaining he was having some back pain due to the injections that had been performed earlier that week and the manager told him to “do what he needed to do.”
At the time, Lesher left work approximately 50 minutes prior to his shift ending and the manager called a ride for the plaintiff and asked him to fill out an accident report, which Lesher refused to do since he was not hurt on the job, according to the suit.
Lesher claims on Jan. 24, 2015, he was called into the office and told he was being suspended due to leaving without telling anyone, even though he explained the situation to his manager.
Four days later, Lesher was wrongfully terminated from his employment for what the defendants claimed to be “unexcused absences,” according to the suit.
Lesher claims the defendants’ actions violated the West Virginia Human Rights Act.
The defendants’ failure to accommodate, retain, rehire and/or reinstate the plaintiff due to his disability also violated the West Virginia Human Rights Act, according to the suit.
Lesher claims the defendants also violated public policy and caused him emotional distress.
Lesher is seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. He is being represented by Tammy Bowles Raines of Tammy Bowles Raines Law Office; and Stephen P. New and Amanda J. Taylor.
Speed Mining claimed in its answer to Lesher’s complaint that Lesher failed to state a cause of action upon which relief could be granted and that that the plaintiff’s damages, if any, “should be reduced by his failure to take reasonable steps to mitigate them.”
Speed Mining is represented by C. David Morrison and Michael J. Moore of Steptoe & Johnson.
The case is assigned to Circuit Judge James C. Stucky.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 17-C-93