Heather Isringhausen Gvillo Oct. 25, 2013, 10:04am

Defendants accused of firing an employee after he told his supervisor about allegedly illegal payments to fellow workers have denied allegations in the St. Clair County lawsuit.

According to the complaint filed on July 26, Joe Ciofu worked for defendant EVJO LLC, doing business as Jersey Mike’s Subs, on Green Mount Crossing. While there, Ciofu alleges he learned the company was paying employees cash for overtime hours to avoid paying taxes on those wages. He claims he was fired when he reported the illegal actions to his supervisor, defendant Greg Potter, in July 2012.

Ciofu also claims Potter required him to sign a resignation letter that he had written for Ciofu and threatened to withhold his last paycheck, deny any claim of unemployment benefits and make sure Ciofu never worked at any other Jersey Mike’s Subs shop if he refused to sign the letter, the suit states.

Ciofu claims he refused to sign the letter despite the alleged threats and attempted to get other jobs within the company, but Potter allegedly told potential employers that Ciofu was fired for stealing from the O’Fallon Jersey Mike’s. He also claims Potter made the same remarks to an unemployment compensation hearing officer, allegedly robbing him of jobs and benefits.

Defendants EVJO LLC and Potter filed an answer to the complaint on Sept. 12 through attorney Bharat Varadachari of HeplerBroom LLC in Edwardsville, denying the allegations against it and demanding a trial by jury.

In addition to the answer, defendants filed 22 affirmative defenses against the plaintiff blaming him of failing to state a cause of action and claiming the defendant acted in good faith and terminated the plaintiff on legitimate business reasons, among others.

Ciofu filed a response to the affirmative defenses on Sept. 18 through attorneys Michael J. Brunton and Mary M. Stewart of Brunton Law Offices, PC in Collinsville, denying the defenses.

On Oct. 8, attorney Varadachari filed a motion for withdrawal and substitution of counsel. Attorneys Beth C. Boggs and Michael J. Lach of Boggs, Avellino, Lach & Boggs LLC in St. Louis entered their appearance on behalf of the defendants. The motion has not yet been granted.

Ciofu seeks a judgment of more than $200,000.

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Andrew Gleeson scheduled a mandatory status conference for Nov. 25 at 9 a.m.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 13-L-393

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