Worker seeks $2 million claiming he was terminated over union affiliation

Kelly Holleran Nov. 4, 2009, 2:56pm

A man is seeking more than $2 million from his former Madison County employer, claiming he was terminated after his bosses learned he had previously been a union member.

Dennis Cunningham filed a lawsuit Oct. 26 in Madison County Circuit Court against UTI Integrated Logistics Incorporated.

Cunningham claims he was working for UTI Integrated at its Edwardsville location until he was fired on Aug. 21.

Although Cunningham had no recorded incidents of discipline before his termination, UTI Integrated fired him because of a complaint accusing an employee named "Dennis" of abusive language and other inappropriate conduct, according to the complaint.

At the time of the complaint, there were two UTI Integrated employees named Dennis, the suit states.

"The other employee named Dennis had been disciplined several times for similar incidents including previously receiving a written warning and a suspension," the complaint says. "Plaintiff was terminated without any of the disciplinary steps that were used against another employee for similar complaints."

Cunningham claims he was targeted for the termination because he had met with his superiors the prior day and revealed that he had formerly been a union member.

During the meeting, Cunningham's superiors were discussing the possibility of the organization of a union being formed by UTI Integrated work force, according to the complaint.

"Defendant actually discharged Plaintiff in retaliation for his union affiliation," the suit states. "No reasonable cause or justification existed to dismiss Plaintiff from his employment."

In the three-count suit, Cunningham is seeking economic damages of more than $150,000 and punitive damages of more than $2 million, plus pre-judgment interest, costs and attorney's fees.

Todd W. Sivia and Luke A. Behme of Sivia Business and Legal Services in Edwardsville will be representing him.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 00-L-1144.

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