A Madison County man has filed suit against his former employer, saying he now fears for his life after he was forced to work with a co-employee who threatened to kill him.

Thomas Dooley claims he began working for defendants United Industries Corporation and Spectrum Brands in 2006, but was fired from his job on Sept. 23.

While United and Spectrum told Dooley they fired him because he took off work without a medical excuse, Dooley claims he was actually terminated for reporting a co-worker's threats to kill him.

According to the complaint filed Dec. 18 in St. Clair County Circuit Court, Dooley's problems with his co-worker, Douglas Colvin, began on Aug. 29 when Dooley's office was broken into and his personal computer was stolen.

Dooley accused Colvin of taking the computer and asked Colvin to accompany him to his supervisor's office, the suit states.

"On the way to the office the (sic) said Colvin on three occasions said, 'I'm going to (expletive) kill you!,' or words to that effect," the complaint says. "The (sic) said Douglas M. Colvin is a convicted felon and a person of dangerous propensities."

But, because Dooley reported the break-in, theft and threats to his supervisors and to law enforcement officials, he claims he was fired.

Because of his termination, Dooley has been unable to find employment and has sustained mental stress, strain, worry and anxiety, according to the complaint. In addition, Dooley blames United and Spectrum for hiring Colvin as Dooley now fears for his life, the suit states.

Also named as a defendant in the suit is Eugene Hoge, Dooley's supervisor, who he says never should have fired Dooley because he was certified to leave work due to the stress of Colvin's criminal actions. Dooley claims that Hoge violated the Family and Medical Leave Act by terminating him without notifying him of a request for a doctor's certification for his absence.

In his six-count suit, Dooley is seeking actual damages of more than $300,000 and punitive damages of more than $300,000, plus attorneys' fees and costs.

John Dale Stobbs of Stobbs and Sinclair in Alton will be representing him.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 09-L-1385.

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