MORGANTOWN – A former employee is suing West Virginia University (WVU) over allegations of wrongful termination.
Heimo Riedel was a professor at WVU until he was notified in June 2017 by Joyce McConnell, the provost and vice president of the university, by letter that his employment was terminated effective June 30, 2017, according to a complaint filed in Monongalia Circuit Court.
Riedel claims in the letter, McConnell said the termination was due to allegations instigated by Riedel's department chair. Riedel claims the department chair misapplied or misinterpreted policies, discriminatorily applied unwritten policies and intentionally acted in bad faith.
The plaintiff had worked for WVU as a tenured, contract employee and the decision to terminate his employment allegedly was in bad faith and breached his employment contract's implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, according to the suit.
Riedel claims WVU also violated its written employment policies when it wrongfully terminated his employment and its breaches caused Riedel a substantial loss of income.
WVU breached its fiduciary duty to Riedel and wrongfully terminated his employment while he had active grievances filed against the university, according to the suit.
Riedel claims an employee cannot be fired while there is an ongoing grievance procedure.
"On information and belief, professor Riedel was fired, at least in part, in retaliation for his having filed grievances against WVU," the complaint states. "The plaintiff's wrongful, retaliatory discharge led to foreseeable damages, including the substantial loss of income."
Riedel claims the defendant's actions violated the West Virginia Human Rights Act due to discrimination. He alleges the defendant would not have terminated his employment had he been a younger, tenured professor.
The defendant's actions allegedly caused Riedel to suffer damages and emotional suffering.
Riedel is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. He is represented by David Grunau of Morgantown.
Monongalia Circuit Court case number 19-C-190