Andrea Dearden Jul. 23, 2013, 7:31am

A Madison County woman says she was fired from a Maryville store because she filed a workers' compensation claim for an on-the-job injury.  

Cynthia A. Hewitt filed the complaint against Casey's General Store Inc. on June 27 in Madison County Circuit Court.  

Hewitt says she started working at Casey's General Store on South Center Street in Maryville in September 2011. On Feb. 28, 2012, while moving a tall stepladder inside the store, Hewitt says she fell and hurt her back.  

After the injury, Hewitt applied for and received workers' compensation benefits that paid for medical treatment, according to the complaint. She says she was paid $220 each week in temporary total disability benefits beginning on March 3, 2012.  

On July 31, 2012, Hewitt says she underwent surgery to repair damage to her spine caused by her fall at Casey's General Store. Six months after the procedure, she says she was given the okay by her doctor to return to light duty work.  

Hewitt says she was able to work but the doctor's orders only permitted her to lift a maximum of 15 pounds. She says her employer refused to assign her to light duty. As a result, Hewitt continued to receive the weekly disability payments.  

On March 29, Hewitt's doctor "affirmed the plaintiff had achieved maximum medical improvement" and granted her permission to return to work without restrictions, the petition reads. Able to go back to her job, Hewitt says she immediately stopped receiving disability payments.  

Despite the doctor's approval, Hewitt says the manager at Casey's General Store refused to allow her to return to full employment. Without a job, she filed for unemployment benefits through the Illinois Department of Employment Security, according to the complaint. Hewitt says the application for unemployment benefits was denied based on a report by the defendant that the employee had been "discharged." 

Hewitt contends she was never fired from her job. She says she received a letter dated Aug. 1, 2012, from Casey's General Store that explains her medical benefits had been terminated but confirms that there was no change in her employment status.  

Hewitt says Casey's General Store has reported her as being "discharged from employment" effective the second quarter of 2012 and has refused to allow her to return to work. She claims the company's actions are a direct result of her filing a worker's compensation claim and are, therefore, a violation of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act.  

Hewitt accuses Casey's General Store of wrongful termination and asks to be awarded more than $50,000 in damages. 

Attorney William L. Berry of Collinsville represents her.  

Madison County Circuit Court Case No. 13-L-1068

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