A retired Marine who served as a gunner in Iraq says that his employer in Lexington, South Carolina refused to let him keep Veterans Affairs appointments and eventually fired him, citing that he was a "disable veteran" as the cause.
Lexington County court filings obtained by WIS showed that Jonathan Brown was terminated by New Life Fitness World on July 31 the and the "Employment Status Change" form said, "Discharged for: disabled veteran." Brown has sued the gym because federal law requires employers to make "reasonable accommodations" for disabled employees.
Brown served in the Marine Corps for six years and was deployed to Iraq, where he operated a 25MM cannon before being discharged for a disabling eye condition.
"The VA is just like the military," the retired Marine told WIS. "If you miss an appointment, you might not get another one to actually let them help you with your problem."
Brown recalled that his regional manager, Jonathan Moreno, called him into his office to talk about the doctor visits and then fired him for being a "disabled veteran."
"His mind was made up by the time he was even walking into the building," Brown explained.
Attorney James Smith, who is representing Brown, said that he had never "seen a case that is so spelled out in black and white and is so clear a violation of the law."
WIS caught up with Moreno at Gold's Gym, where he now works. He told the station that Brown's claims were "horse shit," even though Moreno's signature appears on the "Employment Status Change" indicating that "disabled veteran" was the cause for termination.
Gym owner Ciye Malcuit said he was "advised not to say anything" by his lawyers.
"Jonathan Brown was employed by New Life Fitness World," Tobias Ward, an attorney for the gym, wrote in a statement on Monday. "The reason for his termination is hotly contested, and management vigorously disputes the reason for termination given by Jonathan Brown in his lawsuit."
Watch this video from WBTV, broadcast Oct. 23, 2012.