Employee alleges termination was retaliation for workers' comp claim

Kelly Holleran May 4, 2009, 10:00am

A Hardin County man has filed suit against Knife River Corp., alleging the company fired him after he was injured and did not show up for work.

Harold Tunnel claims that while he was working as the driver of a cement mixer on Feb. 5, he was injured after loading and unloading chutes.

That same day, Tunnel claims he told his managers at Knife River of his injury. However, he alleges they told him they needed for him to work and did not allow him to go home, according to the complaint filed April 30 in Jefferson County District Court.

Tunnel continued to complain about his pain and was eventually allowed to go to the hospital, the suit states.

Tunnel says he talked to his supervisor on Feb. 9, and was told to bring in his medical paperwork when the doctors discovered what was wrong.

During the same conversation, Tunnel told his supervisor that he had a medical test scheduled for Feb. 12 and an appointment Feb. 16, the complaint says. Tunnel's supervisor told him to keep in touch and promised to inform human resources of Tunnel's injury.

However, on Feb. 18, Tunnel alleges he talked with a human resources manager for Knife River and learned he was fired for not showing up to work. But Tunnel claims he was terminated for his attempt to file a workers' compensation claim.

Tunnel claims lost wages and mental anguish and punitive damages.

He is seeking unspecified compensatory, general and punitive damages, plus injunctive relief, pre- and post-judgment interest, costs and other relief to which he may be entitled.

Albert T. Van Huff, Ronald A. Monshaugen and Deborah L. Gaunt of Monshaugen and Van Huff in Houston will be representing him.

The case has been assigned to Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court.

Jefferson County District Court case number: B183-928.

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