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Former employees sue DTC
Suit claims authorities exploring criminal charges
Craig Gates w sm
GATES
The Review has learned that James A. Vaden and Kevin C. Young, both former employees of DeKalb Telephone Cooperative (DTC), have filed suit against the co-op and Ceo Craig Gates for allegedly denying them employee benefits.The suits both claim authorities are exploring criminal charges of extortion against Gates based on his actions leading up to the termination of Young, Vaden and their co-workers.“As of the date of filing this complaint, investigators in the 13th and 15th Judicial Districts of Tennessee are exploring criminal charges of extortion against Gates based on his actions leading up to the termination of Mr. (Young-Vaden) and his co-workers, focusing in particular on the specifics of the Agreement of Suspension,” both suits read.Both actions are filed against “DeKalb Telephone Cooperative, Inc., d/b/a DTC Communications (“DTC”) and Craig Gates, pursuant to Sections 502(a) and 510 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. 1132(a) and 1140, for wrongfully interfering with employee benefits and for improperly denying severance benefits.”Both suits allege that the men were terminated for “failing to accept the extortionary terms” of an agreement of suspension they claim Gates presented to them.The suit filed by Vaden reads:“Mr. Vaden began working for DTC on Sept. 22, 1997 as a lineman on the line crew, installing, repairing, and replacing the external lines and related equipment that send telecommunications signals directly to consumers’ homes. He was employed by DTC as a lineman until he was terminated on April 3, 2012, at which time he was earning $21.97 per hour.“As a lineman, Mr. Vaden’s job duties included tearing down old cables and poles and disposing of them. Some of the cable wiring was made of copper.