WHEELING -- A miner is suing his former employer for allegedly terminating him in retaliation for filing a compensation claim.

Robert Marcum filed a lawsuit July 10 in Ohio Circuit Court against Tunnel Ridge LLC.

Marcum, of Crum, alleges that in July 2013 while working for Tunnel Ridge of Triadelphia, he and a coworker sent each other text messages "in jest .. about working in coal mines for the defendant," the lawsuit states." The texts were sent while off duty, the lawsuit states.

When Marcum returned to work on July 5, 2013, he was told that he was being suspended without pay, "pending a review of his participation in these text messages," the lawsuit states.

On July 11, he got a letter from human resources informing him that he had been fired "for texting messages that were disruptive to the morale and production" in the Tunnel Ridge Mine, "while other employees involved in the after-hours texting were not discharged," the lawsuit states. About three months before being discharged, in April 2013, Marcum had filed a workers' compensation claim after a knee injury suffered as a miner. Because of this claim, the lawsuit states, he was wrongfully terminated in violation of state law.

The plaintiff seeks unspecified lost wages, past fringe benefits, lost vacation pay, court costs and attorneys' fees.

The plaintiff is represented by attorneys Kenneth P. Hicks and Juston H. Moore in Huntington.

Ohio County Circuit Court case number 15C200.

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