Man sues former employer, supervisor for discrimination

By Kyla Asbury | Dec 28, 2009

CHARLESTON -- A former employee is suing Coal River Energy and his supervisor for discrimination.

Anzie J. Brewer had been employed by Coal River Energy since 2005, according to a complaint filed Dec. 1 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

On Dec. 14, 2007, Brewer was operating a buggy in an underground mine. When he went over a large bump, he hit his head on the metal canopy part of the buggy. According to the suit, the buggy had inoperative seatbelts.

As a result of his work-related injury, Brewer submitted a Workers' Compensation claim and began receiving treatment for his injured neck. He was not released from workers' compensation treatment until September 2008.

On the same day he was injured, Brewer's co-worker, Joey Dingess, was injured when his foot was pinned against a concrete block by a faulty airlock door, according to the suit.

Brewer claims he provided a truthful statement regarding the facts and circumstances leading up to Dingess' injury by stating that Dingess tripped on a concrete block and debris.

After giving the statement, Brewer claims his supervisor, Richard Robinette, approached him and asked him to change the statement by omitting the information regarding debris in the mine, but he refused to do so.

Brewer claims after refusing to change his statement, Robinette and Coal River Energy changed the terms of his employment by supervising him more closely and ordering him to perform menial tasks not previously part of his responsibilities.

On Jan. 2, 2008, Robinette terminated Brewer's employment for "pretexual reasons, but in retaliation for refusing to change his truthful statement regarding the injuries sustained by Dingess."

At the time of Brewer's termination, he was receiving or eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits, according to the suit.

Brewer is seeking back pay and front pay, including benefits; compensatory damages for severe emotional and mental distress, humiliation, anxiety, embarrassment, depression, aggravation, annoyance and inconvenience; all out-of-pocket loses; and punitive damages. He is being represented by Mark L. French and Matthew S. Criswell of Criswell & French.

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

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 09-C-2213

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