BECKLEY – A former employee is suing Arch Coal after he claims his employment was terminated after he cooperated with Federal Bureau of Investigation agents during an investigation into a pay-to-play scheme.
Mingo Logan Coal Company and Arch Coal Group were also named as defendants in the suit.
Jason K. Stratton was employed by Arch Coal on Feb. 18, 1997 as a dispatcher and, during his employment, he consistently performed his duties in a safe and satisfactory manner and met the defendants’ reasonable expectations, according to a complaint originally filed in Raleigh Circuit Court and later removed to federal court.
Stratton claims on May 30, 2014, numerous officials for and vendors to Mingo Logan Coal Company were indicted due to their participation in a “pay-to-play” scheme involving selection and use of vendors at the company’s Mountain Laurel Complex.
The plaintiff cooperated with FBI investigators during a joint federal and state investigation in to an illegal kickback scheme at Mountain Laurel Complex and, during the investigation, as well as subsequent resulting civil litigation, the defendants learned that Stratton possessed certain voice recordings, notes and photographs relevant to the cases, which he planned to disclose if requested by subpoena, according to the suit.
Stratton claims he was thereafter scheduled for fewer work shifts after his cooperation became known to the administration of Mingo Logan and he was ostracized by his superiors.
The administration of Mingo Logan went as far as to attempt to interfere with his marital relationship after his cooperation became known and he developed Major Depressive Disorder, including anxiety, depression and some paranoia, and was taken off work on Dec. 8, 2015, according to the suit.
Stratton claims when he returned to work on Jan. 29, his employment was terminated.
The defendants wrongfully terminated Stratton’s employment and retaliated against him because of his cooperation with the investigation, according to the suit.
Stratton claims the defendants also violated the West Virginia Human Rights Act and caused him damages.
Stratton is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. He is being represented by Stephen P. New, Stacey L. Fragile and Amanda J. Taylor.
The defendants are represented by Shawn A. Morgan and C. David Morrison of Steptoe & Johnson.
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number: 5:16-cv-12204