Man fired after comp claim, sues employer

Steve Gonzalez Jan. 9, 2006, 4:58am

A southern Illinois man who claims his employer refused to let him come back to work after filing a workers' compensation claim retaliated by filing suit Jan. 4 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

Seeking a judgment in excess of $50,000, Brian Dotson, of Energy, Ill., alleges he sustained a work-related back injury at Bombardier Motor Corporation that required substantial medical treatment on Jan. 7, 2004.

Dotson claims he was told he must use "Family and Medical Leave" for the period he was off work and that he only had a limited number of days to use.

According to Dotson, Bombardier set a Feb. 8, 2004, return date claiming his time under FMLA would be exhausted as of that date.

"On Feb. 8, 2004, Dotson attempted to return to his employment at Bombardier, at which time, he was advised by defendant that his employment would be terminated if he exhausted his Family Medical Leave Act time, despite the fact that he was temporary totally disabled from a work-related injury," the complaint states.

Dotson claims he remained off work because his treating physician instructed him he could not return to work and Bombardier instructed him to complete an application to be re-hired.

He claims on Aug. 15, 2004, Christy Owens, an employee of Bombardier, called him and advised him that he had been terminated and then told him on Aug. 30, 2004, that Bombardier had "no openings."

"Dotson was never permitted to return to work at Bombardier after surgery for his work-related injury," the complaint states.

According to Dotson, Bombardier wrongfully required him to utilize Family Medical Leave Act time rather than afford his temporary total disability time as authorized by law and violated the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act by terminating him for exercising his rights to file a claim for benefits.

Dotson claims that he has lost income, retirement benefits and experienced a period of depression. He also has suffered other problems related to loss of income, including discord in his family.

Dotson is represented by Paula Newcomb of Benton.

The case has been assigned to District Judge J. Phil Gilbert.


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