Painter seeks $490k for not being rehired

Ann Knef Aug. 28, 2007, 11:43am

Vern's Painting, Inc. of Belleville is being sued by a former employee seeking $490,000 for not being rehired after settlement of a workers' compensation claim.

Rodney Reiff claims he told his employer in November 2005 that he needed right ankle surgery as a result of squatting, climbing ladders and other employment activities as a painter.

"Plaintiff advised Vern Thacker that he would need surgery for the right ankle and that Plaintiff would need to file a Workers' Compensation claim," states Reiff's complaint filed Aug. 27 in St. Clair County Circuit Court. "Vern Thacker responded, 'No way' and 'Tough it out,' clearly stating that Plaintiff should not file a workers' compensation claim."

A year later Reiff filed a claim. In June 2006 the claim was settled "at which time Vern Thacker agreed to hire Plaintiff back as a painter...when Plaintiff was released by his doctor," the suit states.

Reiff claims that when he was released to return to work in August 2006, Thacker refused to rehire him.

Thacker indicated "he had only agreed to employ Plaintiff if Plaintiff had accepted the employer's first offer of settlement in the workers' compensation case," the suit states.

"During the conversation of about August 4, 2006, Plaintiff advised Vern Thacker that it was against the law not to hire him back because he had filed a Workers' Compensation claim," the complaint states. "Vern Thacker replied, 'I offered you your job back but that was before you turned that first settlement down.'"

Reiff, represented by David M. Duree of O'Fallon, is seeking $40,000 in lost income; $100,000 in future lost income; in excess of $50,000 in attorneys fees; in excess of $100,000 in mental and emotional distress damages and in excess of $200,000 in punitive damages.

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