Kelly Holleran Feb. 18, 2014, 7:30am

A volunteer firefighter claims he lost his job after he clocked into work a little more than one hour late because he was battling a fire.

Justin Wilkinson filed a lawsuit Feb. 6 in the Madison County Circuit Court against HWRT Oil Company and Matthew Schrimpf.

In his complaint, Wilkinson alleges he was working as a fuel terminal operator for HWRT. He also volunteered as a firefighter for the Rosewood Heights Fire Department. On Jan. 30, the Rosewood Heights Fire Department called Wilkinson to request his help in fighting a “massive five-alarm fire which was on Valley Drive” in East Alton. At 7:21 a.m., Wilkinson was still fighting the fire and called his boss, Frank Weber, to let him know, according to the complaint. Weber told Wilkinson he could either take a vacation day or come into work late, the suit states.

At about 8:49 a.m., Wilkinson called Weber to let him know he would be to work as soon as possible. At 9:12 a.m., Wilkinson clocked in – a little more than one hour after his usual 8 a.m. start time, the complaint says. On Jan. 31, Schrimpf fired Wilkinson, which is a violation of the Volunteer Emergency Worker Job Protection Act, he claims.

Because of his termination, Wilkinson lost wages and benefits, sustained emotional distress and anxiety and incurred costs in attempting to secure subsequent employment, according to the complaint. He also suffered humiliation and distress, the suit states.

He is being represented by Christopher M. Donohoo of the Donohoo Law Firm in East Alton.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 14-L-201.

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