Former employees sue Massey, others for wrongful termination

By Kyla Asbury | Dec 21, 2009

CHARLESTON -- Two former employees are suing three Massey Energy-related companies and two individuals in separate cases for wrongful termination.

CHARLESTON -- Two former employees are suing three Massey Energy-related companies and two individuals in separate cases for wrongful termination.

Mike Jones and James D. Lester were employed by Titan Transport as truck drivers at the Omar mine site, according to two complaints filed Nov. 20 and Nov. 24 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Jones claims he and Lester were scheduled to work 10-hour shifts, but that the shifts were flexible, as some employees worked 5 a.m. to 3 p.m., or 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., and so on.

Over the course of his employment, Jones claims Earnest Earl, the supervisor at the Omar mine site and an employee of Massey Coal Services and Stirrat Coal Company, repeatedly referred to him as a "nigger" and made countless racist comments about him over truck radios, thereby broadcasting these comments to anyone who was listening.

Jones claims he complained to Joseph B. Fields, the owner and operation of Titan Transportation, about Earl's racist comments. Lester claims he voiced his displeasure of Earl's racist comments about Jones.

On June 25, Jones and Lester left the Omar mine site at 3 p.m., as they had done so many times prior.

On July 1, Jones and Lester claim Fields contacted them and informed them they were "banned from the Oman mine site" because they ended their shifts at 3 p.m. on June 25.

According to the suits, the Omar mine site provided the only substantial work for Titan Transportation and since Jones and Lester were banned from the mine site, they were terminated from their employment at Titan.

Jones and Lester claim Titan Transport and Fields were complicit in Massey Coal Services, Stirrat Coal Company and Earl's discriminatory practices by and through its termination of both men after they were banned from the Omar mine site.

Both men are seeking compensatory and punitive damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress, tort of outrage/intentional infliction of emotional distress, civil conspiracy, Human Rights Act violations, tortious interference, public policy violations, wrongful termination, interference with unemployment compensation and negligence. They are being represented by James R. Akers II of Akers Law Offices.

Kanawha Circuit Court case numbers: 09-C-2169, 09-C-2183

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