Alton trucking firm sued over worker's alleged retaliatory discharge

Andrea Dearden Apr. 18, 2012, 10:54am

An Alton trucking company is accused of firing an employee because he was hurt on the job and asked to be compensated for the injury.

Charles Zohner Jr. filed the retaliatory discharge complaint against KFS Trucking LLC on March 30 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Zohner says was employed by Alton-based KFS Trucking as a dispatched delivery driver and hauler of commercial food for 12 years, according to the complaint. While working in June 2011, Zohner says he received an on-the-job injury. He says he was required to undergo surgery and was later treated for post-surgical infections.

In November 2011, Zohner says he filed a workers' compensation claim. After that claim was filed, Zohner contends KFS Trucking "targeted" and "disciplined" him for "behavior that was acceptable for employees who did not file workers' compensation claims."

KFS Trucking allegedly refused to pay Zohner's workers' compensation benefits, provide off-work pay or pay his medical bills. The employee says he was forced to repeatedly file motions for sanctions. Zohner says KFS Trucking eventually agreed to pay his medical bills but never actually submitted the payment to the provider.

On Jan. 16, 2012, Zohner's employment was allegedly terminated. He says he was released to light or modified duty on Jan. 21.

Zohner says he was fired from KFS Trucking in retaliation for filing a workers' compensation claim. He accuses the company of violating the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act and Illinois Public Policy by discriminating against him because of the claim. He contends the company acted "with an evil motive or reckless indifference" to his rights.

Zohner is asking to be awarded damages of more than $100,000 in actual damages for loss of income, emotional distress, loss of insurance and fringe benefits. He is also asking to be awarded punitive damages and court costs.

Attorney Brian Stokes, of St. Louis, is representing Zohner. They demand a jury trial.

St. Clair County Circuit Court No. 12-L-164

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