WV miner sues for discrimination

A FORMER Coal River Mining employee has sued the West Virginia operator in state circuit court, claiming he was discriminated against while in recovery from drug addiction and ultimately terminated from his position.

Donna Schmidt

According to state legal journal the West Virginia Record, Shaun Mullins filed his lawsuit in Kanawha Circuit Court on March 21, naming Coal River Mining as the only defendant.

Mullins, who was employed at the mine from January 3, 2009 to November 14, 2012, sought treatment for drug addiction last July and was prescribed the recovery aid Suboxone as part of that plan.

However, the worker said in his suit documentation that on November 12 he was ordered by mine foreman Charlie Fouch to take a drug test and when he observed a dipper for Suboxone he reported to safety director Eddie Morris that the drug was not forbidden in the operator’s drug policy.

Mullins, the Record said, also claimed he informed Morris at that time of a new prescription for Xanax issued the day before to help him through a recent separation with his wife.

The worker said he was told he would be placed on a nine-day work suspension because he did not previously report the prescription.

Morris also reportedly told the plaintiff he could return to work after the Thanksgiving holiday.

In the documentation, Mullins claims Morris informed him later that he was required to furnish letters from his treatment facility indicating that Suboxone does not get a patient high and that he could return to his post once those letters were received.

In December, he was terminated from Coal River after being called in for a meeting.

Mullins said Coal River’s actions were violations of the West Virginia Human Rights Act, claiming the operator’s conduct was malicious, intentional, callous and in reckless disregard of his protected rights.

He is seeking reinstatement as well as front pay and back pay and compensatory and punitive damages with pre and post-judgment interest.

The case, known formally as 13-C-541, has been assigned to circuit judge Charles King.

The former miner is being represented by Lia DiTrapano Fairless of DiTrapano Law Firm and L Tom Price of Holroyd & Yost.

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