Former employee files wrongful termination suit against Performa - Business, Government Legal News from throughout WV

Former employee files wrongful termination suit against Performance Coal

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A Clear Fork resident recently filed a suit against Alpha Natural Resources subsidiary Performance Coal Co., alleging he was unlawfully discharged for enforcing safety standards and for participating in the Upper Big Branch mine disaster investigation.

Glen Farley filed the suit against his former employer May 11 in Raleigh County Circuit Court. For nearly 11 years, Farley worked as a truck driver, mechanic, belt monitor, foreman, fire boss and electrician for various Massey Energy subsidiaries including Performance Coal Company.

Alpha Natural Resources purchased Massed Energy in June 2011.

"Although Massey Energy sold out to Alpha Natural Resources, the same persons who operated the Massey Energy subsidiaries, specifically Performance Coal Company, are still operating those subsidiaries and old habits die slowly if at all," the suit asserted.

Farley said by enforcing safety standards, he cost the company money and was fired even after receiving an outstanding evaluation.

Farley also asserts his participation in the investigation of the Upper Big Branch mine disaster contributed to his termination.  

Farley's suit listed two instances where he enforced safety standards acting in his capacity as a surface foreman. The first occurred at the beginning of March when he shut down a job at a Workman's Creek mine because he discovered a gas line in the road was uncovered by a road crew.

Farley said he cost Performance "substantial money" for relocating the gas line.

A month later on April 1, the suit continued, Farley shut down a road leading to the Upper Big Branch Mine's silo portal because he deemed the road unsafe for rubber tire vehicles. Farley said the road did not have berms and was washed out.

This slowed the process of sealing the Upper Big Branch mine, Farley said. It also called for more work from  management, Farley asserts, because it required a modification of a Mine Safety and Health Administration (k) order to shut down the mine.

Farley was fired later that month.

The suit notes Performance Coal officials argue Farley was fired because he borrowed a tractor without permission for his personal use.

Farley argues, however, that he was given permission to borrow the tractor.

"Plaintiff was earning approximately $79,000 per year in his work with Defendant Performance and is now reduced to unemployment in a tight economy with a declining market for coal," the suit stated.

An answer from Performance Coal Company is due June 10.

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