Kelly Holleran Dec. 6, 2012, 7:12am

A Pocahontas woman claims she lost her job after she hired an attorney to help her file for workers’ compensation benefits.

Laura Wilson filed a lawsuit in Madison County Circuit Court against Talley Chiropractic, Jason Talley and Rebecca Stearnes.

In her complaint, Wilson alleges she worked for Talley Chiropractic when she developed a work-related injury in May of 2011. After reporting the injury to her employer, Wilson says she received treatment from a massage therapist paid for by Talley and Stearnes, according to the complaint. Later, the defendants referred her to an orthopedic surgeon, who recommended surgery to both her left and right wrists, the suit states.

After Wilson informed her employer of the surgeon’s recommendations, the defendants agreed to pay for the medical costs as well as any time off Wilson would need, the complaint says.

However, the defendants did not have workers’ compensation insurance at the time, Wilson claims.

Wilson underwent a carpal tunnel release surgery on her right wrist on July 17 and endured a second surgery on her left wrist on Aug. 14, according to the complaint.

The day before her second surgery, however, Wilson was told that her employer would not be paying her all the benefits she was entitled to receive under the Workers’ Compensation Act. In turn, Wilson hired a lawyer, the suit states.

When they discovered that Wilson had hired an attorney, the defendants met with Wilson on Aug. 20, telling her they could be fined or penalized for their failure to have workers’ compensation insurance.

They convinced Wilson to sign an agreement by threatening to fire her if she did not do so.

On Aug. 28, Wilson was wrongly terminated, the suit states.

“The grounds given for the termination of Plaintiff’s employment were a pretext for terminating plaintiff for having exercised her rights under the Workers’ Compensation Act,” the complaint says.

Because of the defendants’ actions, Wilson claims she has lost wages and has suffered embarrassment, humiliation, emotional distress and a loss of her reputation and standing in the community.

In her complaint, Wilson is seeking a judgment of more than $150,000, plus punitive damages of more than $3 million and costs.

Mark S. Schuver of Mathis, Marifian and Richter in Belleville will be representing her.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 12-L-1909.

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