Female truck driver sues for hostile work environment

By Harmon Marks | Nov 10, 2010

MADISON -- A female truck driver claims her former employer and supervisor for creating a hostile work environment.

In a six-count complaint filed in Boone Circuit Court, Kimberly K. Campbell-Johnson says sexual discrimination is in violation of the State Human Rights Act.

The defendants are Elite Coal Services Inc., Spartan Mining Co. dba Black Castle, Trace Transport Co., Massey Coal Services Inc. and Larry Higgins.

Campbell-Johnson worked at the Black Castle surface mine beginning in November 2008. She was terminated in early February 2009. During her tenure, Campbell-Johnson says she was subjected to an abusive, stressful and hostile working environment.

According to the complaint, for an extended period she "was subjected to severe and pervasive sexual harassment by the defendant, which included unwanted, unwelcome and unsolicited verbal and physical conduct by agents of defendants."

Singling out Higgins, for a time her supervisor, the woman says he attempted to physically force himself on her.

"Defendant Higgins and agents of the corporate defendants repeatedly made grotesque and vile, graphic and sexual comments to plaintiff, including ... statements about her breasts over the CB and directly to her, ... assertions by a Spartan supervisor that he was having a wet t-shirt contest and a request for her to compete, and ... after showing plaintiff a picture of a man with an erection, defendants' agent asked plaintiff, 'is that big enough for you?' to which plaintiff responded, 'I don't want to see that.'"

Campbell-Johnson says she was injured in a truck accident in December 2008 and filed for workers' compensation; after which her physician requested she do modified duty and not perform pushing, pulling, carrying or lifting. Subsequently, she says her doctor took her off work in late January 2009, then on Feb. 2 she was terminated. She claims she was fired because she attempted to file for workers' comp, temporary disability, and/or complained of sexual harassment.

Plaintiff has recovered physically and is able to work, but has not been recalled. Her complaint includes various companies, aside from Higgins, because, she says, "...Defendants continued to put Plaintiff back in close working conditions with the harassers and refused to accommodate Plaintiffs concerns."

Charleston attorneys Lonnie C. Simmons and Robert M. Bastress III want jury awards of lost wages, front and back pay; attorney costs, compensatory damages for "humiliation, annoyance and inconvenience, invasion of privacy, affront to personal dignity, damage to reputation, emotional pain and suffering, and any other amount sufficient to compensate her for the damages proximately caused by Defendants."

In addition, Campbell-Johnson seeks punitive damages in an amount to discourage actions described in her complaint, plus such other relief deemed just.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge William S. Thompson.

Boone Circuit Court case number: 10-C-242

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