Coal miner says he was fired because of disability

By Harmon Marks | Feb 26, 2013

MADISON - Bryan Angel contends he was wrongfully discharged from his coal mining job because of his disability status.

Charleston attorneys David Grubb and Kristina Thomas Whiteaker filed Angel's suit Feb. 1 in Boone County Circuit Court seeking jury trial. The defendant is Frasure Creek Mining, LLC, d/b/a Trinity Coal Corp.

Angel represents that an X-ray and pulmonary function test on Sept. 13, showed a lymph node abnormality "compatible with borderline occupational pneumoconiosis," although further testing would be necessary to rule out sarcoidosis or nonspecific interstitial disease.

Angel began employment with Frasure Creek about Sept. 14 and worked three days, according to complaint.

On Sept. 17, the complaint says, Angel's superintendent told him he needed to have a CT scan follow up on "something" found in his pre-employment lab work. Also, he would need a release from his doctor to return to work. A scan was done that same day and a work release given, Angel relates.

A pulmonary specialist examined him Sept. 20, the complaint continues, and advised that a medastinoscopy would be beneficial to obtain a tissue sample. A follow-up appointment was scheduled and the doctor provided a return to work slip. Angels says he returned to his surface maintenance crew work Sept. 21-23.

He received a phone call while driving to work the next day, Angel says, from a company human resources representative, Ty Coleman, informing him the work release turned in was "not good enough" and he needed a different kind of document.

According to the complaint, Coleman was quoted as saying "that's not a risk we're taking" in reference to Angel's medical test results.

Following additional procedures, Plaintiff’s doctor diagnosed him with mild sarcoidosis, prescribed oral steroids and "provided a letter indicating that Plaintiff was medically cleared for work as a coal miner, without limitations," Angel says.

After he worked about an hour-and-a-half on Oct. 5, the complaint continues, Coleman told him to leave the premises because he "never worked here."

After explaining he had received two paychecks, Angel was still ordered to leave, it is alleged.

Angel contends that at no time did he have any symptoms related to his lung condition and his pre-employment pulmonary function test was normal.

He accuses Frasure Creek Mining of disability discrimination under the West Virginia Human Rights Act, among other things, and seeks jury awards of compensatory and punitive damages, litigation costs, pre- and post-judgment interest, plus further appropriate relief.

He also asks for a permanent injunction ordering Defendant "to establish an ongoing training program for their employees on the subject of unlawful employment discrimination."

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

Boone Circuit Court case number: 13-C-23

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