Soldier says company penalized him because of service

The StateDecember 13, 2010 

A Goodyear service shop manager who is an Army reservist has sued the company, alleging the company is hurting his career because he has taken time off for his military training.

Alan J. King’s complaint is among a small but growing trend of claims by veterans who say that their service to the nation is causing them troubles in the workplace, according to the Reserve Officers Association, a Washington-based advocacy organization.

King, a 26-year-old staff sergeant, contends in his lawsuit filed in federal court in Columbia that Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. has discriminated against him by placing him on probation and transferring him to a low-volume store in Rock Hill, where he is likely to make less money.

King cites his 2009 job evaluation by his boss. It states in part that King “leaves for long periods of time with military duties. Can’t follow threw (sic) with projects that come due while he is gone.” Overall, however, the evaluation states King meets expectations for his job as a service manager.

Goodyear’s district manager told King in August that “Goodyear was to be his primary obligation in his working life, taking priority over the United States military during a time of war,” according to the suit, which also contends the store manager complained King’s absences caused the district manager to “pick up the slack.”

Ted Speth, the attorney defending Goodyear, said Friday that King has not been demoted or had his wages reduced. “We’re not sure how he’s been wronged,” said Speth, whose Columbia firm, Olgetree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart, specializes in employment dispute cases.

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