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County sued by former employee

June 10, 1997

By BRENDAN KIRBY

Staff Writer

A former Washington County Roads Department employee who was injured on the job in 1992 has filed a lawsuit that alleges the county violated an agreement by firing him last year.

In the suit, filed last week in Washington County Circuit Court, Douglas G. Lohman also accuses the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees of negligence in handling his grievance.

The suit asks for $50,000 from the county and $500,000 from the union.

Washington County Attorney Richard Douglas said he has not examined the suit and declined to comment. George Gisin, staff representative for AFSCME Council 67 in Baltimore, also would not comment.

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The suit says Lohman was a motor equipment operator in 1992 when he was injured. He was fired on March 22, 1994, but was rehired in September of that year after reaching an agreement.

Quoting from that agreement, the suit said Lohman would return to work "as soon as he is medically released from his attending physician."

But the suit alleges that Lohman was fired again on March 19, 1996, even though he had not been medically released by his doctor.

In the suit's second count, Lohman accuses the union of mishandling his grievance. County employees have 10 working days to file an appeal to arbitration. But the suit says Shirley Kirkwood, then the staff representative for AFSCME, filed the request for arbitration panel nearly a month after the June 21, 1996, deadline.

Since the 10-day deadline had passed, the grievance was considered settled, according to the suit.

"As a result of defendant AFSCME's negligence in failing to timely file the Request for Arbitration Panel, (Lohman) was unable to appeal his termination any further and lost his employment," the suit said.

Michael E. Nehring, an attorney for Lohman, declined to comment.

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