Woman says Zep breached contract after accident

By Kelly Holleran | May 12, 2010

A Jefferson County woman has filed suit against her employer and some of its employees, alleging she has lost significant amounts of money because of work they have taken from her.

Barbara Allamon claims she began working as a salesperson at defendant Zep in 1998. As part of her employment, Allamon sold cleaning supplies and received commissions based on the number of products she sold, according to the complaint filed May 3 in Jefferson County District Court.

While working on Dec. 3, 1998, Allamon became severely injured in a car accident, causing her to endure an extended period of rehabilitation and recuperation, the suit states. The accident left Allamon partially disabled and requiring special work accommodations, the complaint says.

For example, Allamon claims she was forced to work at home instead of at an office, was unable to sit for extended periods of time and could not travel extensively. However, none of the accommodations affected Allamon's job performance, according to the complaint.

"After returning to work, she successfully sold Zep products from home, even exceeding the volume sold by Zep reps working at Zep's office," the suit states.

After seeing Allamon's work performance following the collision, Zep decided to enter into a written agreement with her on Dec. 30, 2004, agreeing to allow her to retain her position and assigning her accounts out of Dallas, Houston and Baton Rouge that had not purchased Zep products for the past nine months, the complaint says.

Defendants Ross Harding and Greg Miller signed the agreement, which included a provision that Allamon would be provided an exclusive list of the inactive accounts on the third of each month, she claims. Zep could not share the list with other Zep employees per the agreement, according to the complaint.

"If she made a sale to a customer on an inactive account list, the account was protected for six months," the suit states. "Allamon's compensation was exclusively from commissions or benefits calculated based on commissions. Further, the Employment Agreement stipulated that Allamon be allowed to do all of this from home."

Allamon satisfactorily completed all tasks assigned to her, but Zep modified her employment agreement in January 2006. Instead of providing her with a list of nine-month inactive accounts, the company provided her with only seven-month inactive accounts, the complaint says. Then, again in March 2007, Zep modified the agreement to provide Allamon with six-month inactive accounts and to expand her territory to San Antonio, she claims.

Allamon was provoked into filing suit against Zep when the company stopped sending her the exclusive lists on Dec. 10, 2008. Prior to its failure to send her the lists, Zep had formed an inside sales team.
It had recruited Allamon to join the team, but she says she refused because she would be forced to work in the office and would have been paid significantly less.
After Allamon refused to join the team, Zep made Allamon's exclusive contact lists available to its inside sales team members, according to the complaint. By February 2009, Zep sent Allamon six-month inactive accounts for the Houston area only, the suit states.

"Despite the fact that she is not receiving the account information promised to her by Zep, she has put forth a tremendous effort to keep her sales up," the complaint says. "However, this is all but impossible without the exclusive inactive account information Zep is required to supply her with."

Allamon alleges breach of contract, implied in-fact contract, fraudulent inducement, fraud, negligent misrepresentation and tortious interference against the defendants.

In addition to Zep, Harding and Miller, Allamon names Acuity Specialty Products, Richard Manning, Dave Bauer and Olga Martinez as defendants.

She is seeking actual, consequential and punitive damages, attorneys' fees, post-judgment interest and other relief the court deems just.

Dax O. Faubus and Robert F. Galtney of Faubus and Scarborough in Houston will be representing her.

The case has been assigned to Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court.

Jefferson County District Court case number: A186-776.

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