Mine Safety Advocate Says He Was Wrongfully Terminated By Mining Company

According to Kentucky Lexington Herald Leader, a Letcher county miner has sued Cumberland River Coal Co. over wrongful termination. Charles Scott Howard claims he was laid off two years ago by the mining company, then reinstated by a judge and later injured underground while at work.

Howard, an underground equipment operator, was laid off May 2009, several months after he was disciplined for presenting a video and photos of leaking underground seals at a public hearing of the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration. Cumberland County River Coal Co. had said that the worker had not been authorized to use a camera underground.

Howard’s employment was temporarily reinstated and in August an administrative law judge with the Mine Safety and Health Commission had ruled that Howard had been wrongfully terminated. A month before, Howard had suffered a traumatic brain injury while working to clean up a section of a mine. Howard has been in recovery for his brain injuries ever since. According to Howard’s wrongful termination lawyer, Howard lost his job after a doctor employed by the mining company determined he could no longer work underground. The mine safety advocate’s video was played at a public MSHA meeting to show apparently dangerous conditions at the mine, which came more than a year after the tragedy at Upper Big Branch Mine in which 29 West Virginia miners died.