A Godfrey woman says she lost her job when she refused to stop workers at her place of employment from joining a union.
Jane Rowden filed a suit Aug. 19 in the Madison County Circuit Court against Challenge Unlimited Inc.
According to the complaint, Rowden was employed with the defendant between May 2, 2013 and Dec. 2, 2013, as a trainer for individuals with disabilities. During her tenure, Rowden worked as a program director and supervised nine skilled trainers. During the fall of 2013, the employees under her supervision filed a request with the National Labor Relations Board for organization of the trainers, the suit states. She worked with the employees through that process and interviewed those employees in November 2013, as instructed. Those reports went to her supervisor, who was programs director.
On Nov. 25, Rowden was summoned to an appointment with the defendant's attorney at the company's administration offices, according to the filing. During that appointment, she says the attorney questioned her commitment to the company and challenged her for not doing more to stop the Swansea trainers from unionizing and challenged the plaintiff about what was said in the unionization interviews. She refused to say more and said she could not intimidate employees to not join the union because she believed that was illegal, the suit states.
Later that day, her supervisor brought Rowden into a meeting and criticized her for not being forceful enough with employees regarding unionization and said they believed it was Rowden's fault the employees had begun the unionization process. Again, Rowden refused to pressure employees regarding the issue because she felt it was illegal, according to the complaint.
On Dec. 2, Rowden's employment was terminated on the grounds she did not meet expectations, although she had positive performance reviews throughout her employment, the suit states.
The union filed a complaint against the defendant with the NLRB and alleged the defendant improperly tried to influence the election by discharging the plaintiff.
The lawsuit alleges the defendant wrongfully discharged the plaintiff in violation of the Illinois Whistleblower Act.
Rowden seeks a judgment in excess of $300,000 and that her employment be reinstated with the same seniority status with back pay and interest, and compensation for damages including emotional distress, litigation costs, expert witness fees and attorney fees.
She is represented by attorney Greg Roosevelt of Roosevelt Law Offices in Edwardsville.
Madison County Circuit Court Case 14-L-1130.