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Tractor-trailer driver sues former employer for retaliatory discharge

By Molly English-Bowers | Mar 1, 2016

BELLEVILLE – A tractor-trailer driver is suing his former employer for retaliatory discharge after allegedly "stealing company time" to get an MRI.

Anthony Keely filed the suit Jan. 25 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against USF Holland Inc., a transportation company doing business in St. Clair County.

On Feb. 20, 2014, the plaintiff claims he was injured during a tractor-trailer rollover accident. He allegedly hurt his back and neck and sought medical treatment, exercising his rights under the Illinois Workers Compensation Act, the suit states.

On Dec. 21, 2015, an MRI ordered by his physician showed disc abnormality and spinal cord compression. Two days later, the lawsuit says, he claims he further injured his back and neck while lifting a 5,000-pound tote with a pallet jack. He reported the injury according to the defendant's rules.

Then on Dec. 24, he sought medical treatment from a physician who placed him on light duty for four weeks.

On Jan. 5, the plaintiff was called to a meeting with three representatives from the defendant. Jon Kenney, a supervisor, asked the plaintiff to explain the circumstances around his Dec. 23 work injury involving the pallet lift.

The terminal manager, Chris Gula, then allegedly told the plaintiff his workers compensation case was closed and he wasn't entitled to seek further medical treatment, including the Dec. 21 MRI.

The plaintiff explained that he still needed treatment, but Kenney allegedly charged him with “stealing company time” by having the procedure during his work hours. The plaintiff explained he used his lunch break time for the MRI, which took no more than one hour and the MRI company confirmed this, the suit says.

Still, the lawsuit alleges, the plaintiff was terminated on Jan. 5 for “stealing company time.”

As a result of the termination, the plaintiff claims he has lost wages, experienced pain and suffering and been unable to secure employment to support his family.

The suit alleges the defendant's termination of the plaintiff was done with fraud, actual malice and gross negligence. As a result, the plaintiff seeks punitive damages. He also seeks damages against the defendant in the amount of $75,000. He is represented by John H. Leskera of the Leskera Law Firm in Collinsville.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 16-L-43

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