'Job for life' promise broken, former worker claims

Kelly Holleran Jan. 14, 2010, 6:51am

A former project engineer at Wozinak Industries claims the company wrongly terminated him after promising him a job for life.

John Cichon filed a lawsuit Jan. 8 in Madison County Circuit Court against Wozinak Industries doing business as GMP Metal Products and Commercial Forged Products.

Cichon claims he began working for the company on Aug. 14, 2000, but risked his job in 2005 when he reported inappropriate conduct.

"Prior to November 16, 2005, John Cichon discovered that one or more employees at GMP Metal Products was engaging in conduct that in his opinion was not correct and/or potentially illegal with the result that the business of Wozinak Industries, Inc. would have been substantially impaired causing large losses in the event that it continued," the suit states. "At great personal potential loss and the viability of his employment with GMP Metal Products a division of Wozinak Industries, Inc. John Cichon reported the conduct that was not appropriate and sought employment with another company."

However, Cichon decided to forego the other company's employment offer when he received a letter from Wozinak Industries' President Todd Wozinak, promising him employment for life, according to the complaint.

"As long as Wozinak Industries, Inc. is engaged in the business of manufacturing, wherever that may be in the country of this world, you will have a job," the letter stated. "Wozinak Industries, Inc. recognizes your efforts and your talents and is willing to extend this opportunity to you. The only exceptions to this agreement are situations that may arise which would prevent you from performing your duties such as illness, or interest level in what we are working on at the time."

But Chichon claims Wozinak broke its promise when it terminated him on Sept. 10 due to an economic downturn in its business. Instead, Chichon says the company should have offered him employment at another facility.

Because of his termination, Chichon claims he lost ordinary yearly income of $94,000 per year; he lost benefits and pension rights; he lost 401K benefits; he lost bonus potential of $6,000; and he sustained a 10 percent salary cut in order to protect his job.

Chichon seeks compensatory damages of more than $150,000, punitive damages of more than $500,000 and other relief the court deems just.

John D. Wendler of the Law Offices of John D. Wendler in Edwardsville will be representing him.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-16.

More News