Miner battling Eastern Associated in court

A FORMER Eastern Associated Coal miner has taken the company to the West Virginia Supreme Court, alleging the company forced him to lie to federal inspectors about coal dust levels.

Donna Schmidt

Reggie Lee Philyaw claimed he experienced a mental breakdown while working for the company because his managers threatened his job if he did not falsify data given to mine inspectors for the US Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), according to the Charleston Daily Mail.

 

Philyaw, who worked for the Harris No. 1 mine in Boone County, left the company on his own in 2002. He was a safety supervisor who had worked for EAC since 1980, starting out in the Kopperston No. 2 operation.

 

In 1990, the now 50-year-old miner was involved in a federal investigation on the same matter, the paper said. A West Virginia Circuit Court judge rejected Philyaw’s claims in March 2005, but now Philyaw wants a jury to hear his side.

 

“It was like betrayal,” he told the Daily Mail earlier this week. “I approached them on several occasions and told them it was wrong and that I didn’t want to do it...I was told that if I wanted to keep my job I would do what I was told and keep my mouth shut.”

 

Philyaw’s 2002 departure from EAC was due mainly to chronic depression and panic disorders, for which he is now on disability. EAC told the paper, however, that reversing the March decision could cause a myriad of problems for business, saying it would “open a Pandora’s box of spurious claims by employees” who felt they were or had been in similar situations with their employer.

 

Eastern Associated Coal is a subsidiary of Peabody Energy.

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