Man files discrimination suit after termination by Weyerhaeuser

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Jan. 24, 2008, 3:45am

TEXARKANA -- Before beginning his shift on the kiln monitor at the Weyerhaeuser Company, Larry Trotter filled out his time card before he started working. He was fired when he left early without correcting the time sheet. But Trotter claims the termination was really an act of retaliation and discrimination.

Trotter filed a discrimination suit against Weyerhaeuser Company on Dec. 3 in the Circuit Court of Howard County, Ark.

Weyerhaeuser Company is an international forest products company with annual sales of $21.9 billion. The company was founded in 1900 and currently employs about 41,000 people in 18 countries and has ranked in the Fortune 200 since 1956.

According to the original complaint, Trotter said one day in June 2006 he left work early when the relief crew arrived. He maintains that he intended to change his time sheet to reflect that he had left early. However, before he was able to make this correction, Trotter says he was fired for deliberately falsifying company records and leaving the plant site during scheduled working hours.

The Arkansas resident believes he was not terminated for falsifying company records but fired based on his age and retaliation for an injury.

Trotter states that he is aware that Weyerhaeuser saw him as "a potential liability and that his age may require additional medical treatment or special consideration." At the time of discharge, Trotter was 50 years old and believes his age was a significant factor in the company's decision to terminate him.

Trotter made a Worker's Compensation Claim in March 2006, after he injured his hand at work. The plaintiff states that he is now unable to make a fist with his hand, which has caused disability and impairment. Trotter argues his immediate supervisor began to treat him in a "harsh fashion" despite his good work records. He believes he was treated this way in an effort to force him to quit his job.

According to the complaint, Weyerhaeuser instituted a system allowing employees to enter time prior to working and then allowing them to correct it later. The complaint states, "The defendant also knew or should have known that company employees could correct their time records by computer at a later date."

Trotter argues that he had worked overtime many days while waiting for someone to replace him. He states that he would never leave his job prior to his replacement arriving. Because he worked overtime, Trotter considers "it was fair that he could leave early."

After he was fired, Trotter claims Weyerhaeuser led him to believe he would be reinstated and therefore, he did not seek another job. Trotter also states that because of his shift work when employed by Weyerhaeuser, he was unable to train for other employment.

Although defendant Weyerhaeuser states Trotter's claims are barred by the statute of limitations, the company firmly denies Trotter's allegations. Weyerhaeuser states that it "terminated Plaintiff's employment for leaving the plant during scheduled working hours without being properly relieved, without proper authorization and for falsifying company records."

Weyerhaeuser removed the case to the Texarkana Division of the Western District of Arkansas since the plaintiff is alleging violations of federal discrimination laws and seeking more than the minimum requirement for federal court jurisdiction.

Attorney Q. Byrum Hunt, Jr. of the Hot Springs, Ark., law firm Hurst, Morrissey and Hurst, P.L.L.C is representing the plaintiff.

The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes.

Case No.: 4:08cv04005

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