Two lawsuits accuse Appalachian Power of wrongful termination

By Kyla Asbury | Apr 27, 2017

WAYNE – Two lawsuits have been filed against Appalachian Power Company after the plaintiffs claim they were wrongfully terminated.

Richard Wiseman and John Coleman were also named as defendants in the suits.

James M. Workman and Jamie M. Hunter were employed by the defendants and, at the time, Wiseman was the distribution manager for APCO and Coleman was the Line Crew Distribution Supervisor for APCO, according to two complaints filed Feb. 24 in Wayne Circuit Court.

Workman and Hunter claim Mike Shepard, another employee, began displaying and sharing lewd photographs of naked females to subordinate employees for APCO in February 2014, including Workman and Hunter and this would occur on a daily basis and the publication of the photographs was unsolicited.

Employees on Workman’s crew began to complaint that the pictures were offensive and Workman asked Shepard to stop displaying the pictures at work, to which he refused and continued to display the pictures, according to the suits.

Workman claims one employee even resigned over the issue, alleging it violated his religious beliefs of other employees.

The issue was reported to Coleman, but Coleman took no disciplinary action against him for it, according to the suits.

In March 2014, Shepard took Hunter behind closed doors and accused him of spreading rumors that Shepard and Workman were having a romantic relationship and Shepard continued to harass both Workman and Hunter, according to the suits.

The plaintiffs claim Shepard would show up on a job and allege safety violations necessitating Workman to retrieve the safety book to refute him.

Workman complained to Coleman about the false accusations and, after concluding there was so safety violation, Coleman required Shepard to apologize to Workman, but took no disciplinary action for the making of false charges against Workman, according to the suits.

The plaintiffs claim the harassment continued approximately two to three times per week for a month over various topics and each time, the plaintiffs would be called into Coleman’s office and Shepard was made to apologize, but no other action was taken.

Shepard approached the plaintiffs at one point and called them “racist bastards,” but Coleman did not take any disciplinary actions, according to the suits.

The plaintiffs claim Shepard retired from APCO in August 2014 without ever being disciplined for harassing, defamatory and discrimination actions against the plaintiffs and others.

APCO then demanded Workman begin taking notes on his crew and to begin documenting safety violations, according to the suits. Wiseman and Coleman continued to suggest that Workman was covering up safety violations and that he was on the “wrong team,” to which Workman responded by advising that he would report safety violations when they arose, but that he had a good crew.

The plaintiffs claim in December 2014, a new employee was placed onto Workman’s crew who was under-qualified and he routinely late and ignored call-outs.

Coleman was repeatedly advised of Brandon Jones’ poor performance and, thereafter, Jones began surreptitiously recording and taking pictures of the plaintiffs and the crews on jobs and on breaks, according to the suits. Jones quit his job one month after and he gave APCO some of the recordings and photographs.

The plaintiffs claim around the same time, an APCO foreman, Mike McGinnis, shared photographs of Workman and alleging he committed a safety violation by not wearing company-issued chaps.

The plaintiffs were wrongfully terminated on Feb. 27, 2015, according to the suits. The defendants also failed to timely pay their final wages.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre-judgment interest. They are being represented by Todd R. Meadows of The Law Office of Todd R. Meadows.

Wayne Circuit Court case numbers: 17-C-041, 17-C-042

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