Man sues Walter Energy for discrimination

By Kyla Asbury | Nov 5, 2012

CHARLESTON -- A former employee is suing Walter Energy, Inc., after he claims he was discriminated against and laid off from his job.

Maple Coal Co. was also named as a defendant in the suit.

Terry Beard began his employment with the defendants on July 7, 2009 as an underground mechanic and roof bolter, but he had more than 28 years of work experience as a coal miner, according to a complaint filed Oct. 1 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Beard claims in October 2010 he was injured on the job and missed approximately 12 weeks of work due to his arm being in a cast, and he received workers’ compensation benefits for the injury.

In April 2011 Beard was diagnosed with black lung and silicosis and he filed for state occupational pneumoconiosis benefits, according to the suit, and he was moved to an outside position after he applied for benefits without requesting to be moved to a different position.

On March 24, Beard was laid off from work because of a “realignment” and claims the defendants targeted employees who had health problems, injuries and/or were older workers for the layoff.

After the layoff, the defendants continued to hire new employees at Maple Coal, according to the suit, and on June 28, Beard applied for employment with the defendants for the positions of roof bolter and/or scoop operator.

Beard claims he had been specifically informed that the defendants were hiring roof bolters, however, he was not hired for that position or interviewed for any position.

The defendants hired younger workers with less mining experience for the roof bolter positions, according to the suit.

Beard claims the defendants fired him in retaliation for filing for black lung benefits and because of his age and disability status.

The defendants’ actions violated the West Virginia Human Rights Act, according to the suit.

Beard claims the defendants also discriminated against him based upon his application for workers’ compensation benefits.

The defendants’ conduct caused Beard to suffer lost wages; emotional and mental distress; aggravation; humiliation; embarrassment; anxiety; and annoyance and inconvenience, according to the suit.

Beard is seeking compensatory and punitive damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. He is being represented by Kristina Thomas Whiteaker and David L. Grubb.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 12-C-1957

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