Former employee sues Brody Mining for wrongful termination

CHARLESTON -- A former employee is suing Brody Mining, LLC after he claims he was wrongfully terminated from his employment for reporting a low air flow reading to his supervisor.

Michael Coomes, an employee of Brody Mining, was also named as a defendant in the suit.

Lamont Mitchell was hired by Brody Mining in early 2011 as a bolt man and he had previously earned his black hat certification prior to his employment with Brody, according to a complaint filed Aug. 23 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Mitchell claims at Brody he was assigned to work at a mine located near Wharton and as part of his pre-shift routine, he was required to walk the belt located in the part of the mine where he worked and was required to take an air reading to ensure adequate air circulation.

On Aug. 30, 2011, Mitchell took an air reading that indicated low air flow in his area of the mine and reported the low air flow reading to the day shift supervisor, according to the suit.

Mitchell claims the next day he was called into the mine supervisor's office and was told that he should not have reported and/or records the low air reading and that he should have recorded a normal air reading.

Because of the incident, Mitchell was given a disciplinary warning form completed and signed by Coomes indicating that Mitchell was being disciplined for not doing an adequate pre-shift inspection and for recording the low air flow reading, according to the suit.

Mitchell claims he was suspended for three days with intent to discharge from employment and three days later, he was terminated from his employment.

The defendants failed to pay Mitchell's final wages within 72 hours of terminating his employment, according to the suit.

Mitchell claims the defendants' conduct in terminating him from his employment for refusing to falsify a safety reading violated West Virginia common law policies and was in retaliation for him recording the low air reading.

The defendants willfully and intentionally inflicted severe emotional distress and mental anguish upon Mitchell, according to the suit.
Mitchell is seeking compensatory damages. He is being represented by Mark L. French and Matthew S. Criswell.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 12-C-1697

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