Mine shelter maker cited for firing worker who raised safety issues

By Dan Harkins | May 7, 2015

BECKLEY – A former employee of a mine shelter manufacturer has sued, alleging he was fired for raising safety concerns.


BECKLEY – A former employee of a mine shelter manufacturer has sued, alleging he was fired for raising safety concerns.

Timothy Doty filed a lawsuit April 1 in Raleigh Circuit Court against Chembio Shelter Inc., Jerry Piercy and Lawrence Tully, citing wrongful discharge.

The suit says the defendants caused Doty "to be wrongfully discharged for insisting on safe maintenance of equipment as required" by state law. Specifically, Doty "insisted on replacing leaky air and oxygen bottles in emergency refuge shelters manufactured by ChemBio [and] to ensure that coal miners would have reliable breathing supplies to survive after fires or explosions in underground coal mines," which is also required by state law, the suit says.

On Jan. 9, 2011, the suit states, a "catastrophic failure occurred in a high-pressure gas cylinder connected to a breathable air system in a coal mine shelter manufactured by the A.L. Lee Corp. The suit says Doty approached management to make improvements but was turned down. In January 2014, he informed ChemBio about his concerns that shelters were "malfunctioning at a very high rate," according to court documents. He was told that all the repairs Doty was requesting were to expensive to afford, the complaint states.

The lawsuit states Doty was laid off Sept. 11, 2014.

The plaintiff cites wrongful retaliatory discharge for reporting safety hazards.

Doty seeks a preliminary injunction to reinstate him to his original position and: "compensatory damages to compensate for lost wages and benefits, unpaid commissions, back pay, front pay, unused vacation time, damages for indignity, extreme inconvenience, emotional distress, embarrassment, humiliation, extreme annoyance" and court costs.

He is represented by attorney Samuel B. Petsonk of of Mountain State Justice Inc. in Charleston.

Raleigh Circuit Court case number: 15-C-251-K

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