Worker wants job at Wood River site reinstated

Kelly Holleran Apr. 7, 2010, 7:00am

A man wants his job reinstated after he claims his employers wrongly terminated him in retaliation for his filing of a workers' compensation claim.

William Sinclair filed a lawsuit March 30 in Madison County Circuit Court against Millenium Rail and Watco Companies of Wood River.

Sinclair claims he worked for Millenium Rail and Watco from May 1997 until the date of his discharge on Feb. 6, 2009.

Sinclair's supervisors allegedly failed to warn him of his impending termination, so he was shocked when, upon his arrival to work on Feb. 6, 2009, plant manager Steve Prokopich told him he no longer had a job and to leave the premises or face being arrested, according to the complaint.

Sinclair believes the reason for his termination is a workers' compensation settlement he reached with his employers on Dec. 10, 2008. The settlement arose out of a May 14, 2006, work-related injury Sinclair sustained, the suit states.

Before Sinclair's termination, Millenium allegedly attempted to coerce him to give up his right to employment in exchange for the settlement agreement, the complaint says.

"The plaintiff refused to abandon his job with defendant, refused to be coerced into abandoning his job with defendant and continued to pursue and did ultimately settle his workers' compensation claim with defendant without signing or agreeing to any resignation of employment with defendant," the suit states.

"Defendant Millineum Rail terminated plaintiff's employment in retaliation for and as a direct result of plaintiff having exercised his statutory rights pursuant to Illinois' workers' compensation laws. Terminating plaintiff's employment in retaliation for plaintiff's asserting/relying upon his statutory workers' compensation rights violates the strong public policy of the State of Illinois."

Because of his termination, Sinclair claims he lost wages, income, benefits and employment opportunities; suffered emotional distress, humiliation, embarrassment and emotional pain; and incurred costs in pursuing his lawsuit against his former employers.

In his five-count suit, Sinclair seeks lost wages and benefits, compensatory damages of more than $150,000 and punitive damages of more than $100,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems just. He also seeks an order reinstating him to the same seniority status he would have had had his job not been terminated.

Lee W. Barron of Alton will be representing him.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-358.

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