Severed funeral home worker sues former employer

Kelly Holleran Jul. 8, 2009, 12:28pm

A Madison County man says he should be allowed to violate an agreement with a previous employer and work at a competing business because his former employer fired him for no reason.

Barry G. Wilson filed a lawsuit June 26 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Robert C. Herr, Judith A. Herr and Herr Funeral Homes.

Wilson says he began working for Herr Funeral Homes and entered into an employment agreement on Dec. 31, 1999.

In the agreement, Wilson was promised he would receive 24 shares of stock in Herr Funeral Homes, plus would receive additional shares of stock in the company each year as compensation for his services, up to a maximum of 10 percent ownership in the company, according to the complaint.

Also in the agreement, Herr Funeral Homes said it could terminate Wilson for cause.

Included in the agreement was a provision that did not allow Wilson to work for an employer within a 10 mile radius for five years after his termination of employment, the suit states.

On May 7, Wilson was terminated without cause and is now wanting to work at a business that competes with Herr Funeral Homes, the complaint says.

But Herr is threatening to enforce the provision of the agreement that does not allow for Wilson to obtain employment at competing businesses.

However, Wilson contends the provision is unenforceable because Herr breached its own agreement by firing him without cause. It also failed to issue the stock to Wilson in compensation for his services, which is another breach of its contract, according to the complaint.

In the two-count suit, Wilson is asking the court to declare an order that the non-competition provision in the employment agreement is unenforceable and is void. He is also seeking a judgment of more than $50,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.

Jill R. Rembusch of Summers, Compton, Wells in St. Louis will be representing him.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-345.

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