CHARLESTON - A former employee is suing Coal River Mining for discriminating against him and terminating his employment.

Shaun Mullins was employed by the defendant from Jan. 3, 2009, until Nov. 14, according to a complaint filed March 21 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Mullins claims while he was employed by the defendant, he sought treatment for drug addiction at Self Refind on July 13 and, as part of the recovery and treatment, he was prescribed Suboxone.

In order to remain in recovery and abstain from using controlled substances, Mullins continued to take Suboxone, according to the suit.

Mullins claims on Nov. 12, he was approached by Charlie Fouch, the defendant's mine foreman, and was required to take a drug test.

When Mullins took the drug test, he observed a dipper for Suboxone and stated to Eddie Morris, the safety director, that Suboxone was not a forbidden drug in the defendant's drug policy, according to the suit.

Mullins claims he informed Morris that the previous day he had been prescribed a prescription for Xanax by his physician, due to the recent separation from his wife, and because he had not informed the defendant of the recent prescription, he was informed that he would be placed on a nine-day suspension from work.

Morris informed Mullins that if the drug levels came back as non-abusive, he was instructed to return to work after his suspension and after Thanksgiving, Morris informed him that he could return to work, according to the suit.

Mullins claims Morris later informed him that he needed letters from Self Refind stating that Suboxone does not get a patient high, and that after these letters were received, he could return to work.

In December, Mullins was contacted by Teri Chapman of Coal River to come to work for a meeting and, during that meeting, his employment was officially terminated, according to the suit.

Mullins claims the defendant's conduct was malicious, intentional, callous and in reckless disregard of his protected rights.

The defendant's actions also violated the West Virginia Human Rights Act, according to the suit.

Mullins is seeking reinstatement; front pay and back pay; and compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. He is being represented by Lia DiTrapano Fairless of DiTrapano Law Firm PC and L. Tom Price of Holroyd & Yost.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Charles E. King.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 13-C-541

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