Wyoming Co. man says mine co-worker sexually harassed him

By Chris Dickerson | Jul 8, 2014

LOGAN -- A Wyoming County man is suing over claims he was sexually assaulted at work.

Larry Hatfield filed a lawsuit June 13 in Logan Circuit Court against Cliffs Logan County Coal LLC, Cliffs West Virginia Coal Inc., Cliffs Mining Services Company and Steve Elswick, citing assault and battery.

According to the complaint, Hatfield was employed by the defendant company on Nov. 8, 2011, and some months later began to experience sexual harassment by coworker Elswick, including Elswick's improper touching of the plaintiff and lewd comments.

Hatfield says he reported the incident to several superiors, one of whom is related to Elswick, and was told the defendant was only joking and the plaintiff's shift was switched instead of disciplining Elswick.

"Elswick would routinely attempt to grab plaintiff's penis," the complaint states. "Elkwick would routinely attempt to grab plaintiff's buttocks. ...

"Elswick would make lewd and offensive remarks to the plaintiff, such as 'I'm gonna get some of that!'"

The complaint details an incident in September 2012 when the workers were changing clothes at the end of a shift.

"Plaintiff felt something touch his back and turned around to see defendant Elswick putting his penis back in his pants," the complaint states. "Plaintiff's co-worker Darren Browning was present and witnessed this."

The complaint lists other co-workers who allegedly witnessed Elswick's actions.


The lawsuit states after a worker's compensation claim, Hatfield's employment was pretextually terminated March 4, for an unexcused absence that occurred when Hatfield was unable to reach his employer in a snowstorm.

The defendants are accused of sex discrimination/sexual harassment, civil assault and battery, negligent hiring, negligent failure to train and/or supervise, retaliation, retaliatory discharge, discrimination in violation of West Virginia code and intentional/negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Hatfield is seeking damages, back pay, front pay, costs of litigation and injunction against the unlawful conduct.

Hatfield is being represented in the case by attorneys Matthew S. Criswell and Mark L. French of Criswell French PLLC in Charleston. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Roger L. Perry.

Logan Circuit Court Case No. 14-C-153

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