Worker claims she was terminated so employer could hire cheaper labor

Kelly Holleran Oct. 14, 2009, 9:59am

A St. Clair County woman says she was wrongfully terminated so her employer could hire other workers for less pay.

Tamara Newsom filed a lawsuit Oct. 7 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Caliber Auto Transfer of St. Louis, Caliber Management, Caliber Auto Transfer Companies, Caliber Auto Transfer, Inc. and Scott Davenport.

Newsom says she was hired by the defendants to perform vehicle loading services primarily in Venice, but also in St. Louis.

As part of her employment contract, Newsom's employer was supposed to pay union dues so that she would be entitled to union representation, according to the complaint.

While Newsom worked, she did not receive wages equal to the general prevailing rate of hourly wages for similar work in that area, the suit states.

Still, Newsom continued her employment through July 2008 when she was informed that she and her co-workers were being laid off because there was not enough work for them, the suit states.

However, Newsom and her co-workers later learned they were terminated so the company could replace them with other employees at a lower rate, the complaint says.

"When plaintiff and her co-workers learned that the purported reason for the lay off was, in fact, bogus and was fraudulent, plaintiff and her co-workers sought out union representation for purposes of retaining their employment and/or receiving all rights and remedies which would have been available to plaintiff and her co-workers under the law," the suit states.

But Newsom claims she and her fellow employees discovered union representation was not available to them because the defendants had failed to pay the promised union dues.

In addition, after Newsom and her co-workers attempted to go to the union, the defendants reported to local governmental agencies that Newsom and her fellow employees left their jobs voluntarily and had engaged in misconduct during their employment, according to the complaint.

"Defendants made such representations, accusations and charges knowing full well such were completely baseless and would interfere with benefits needed by plaintiff and her co-workers in order to have income and in order to purchase groceries and other essential needs," the suit states.

Because of her termination and denial of union representation, Newsom suffered a deprivation of income, lost her employment benefits, suffered emotionally and incurred many expenses in an attempt to pursue her rights, according to the complaint.

In the five-count suit, Newsom is seeking a judgment of more than $250,000, plus costs.

Thomas G. Maag and Brian M. Wendler of Wendler Law in Edwardsville will be representing her.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number:09-L-539.

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