Miner alleges Lightning Contract Services denied assignments to African-American workers

By Carrie Bradon | Apr 25, 2019

BECKLEY – A Beckley man is suing a temporary employment agency for coal miners over allegations he and other minors were denied assignments because of their race.

James Cox filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia against Lightning Contract Services Inc. and Bennie Milam alleging unlawful race discrimination.

The suit states that the plaintiff is an African-American and has worked as an underground coal miner for 12 years with all of the necessary certifications. The plaintiff alleges he submitted an application for employment with the defendants on Aug. 1, 2014, but the defendants did not send his application to any coal companies from August 2014 to August 2017. He alleges he asked Milam on "numerous occasions" if there were any assignments and was told there were none available.

The plaintiff alleges he was given a temporary assignment on April 3, 2017, at an Arch Coal mine in Raleigh County through another agency. The plaintiff's supervisor there allegedly told the plaintiff that he might be hired full time but that the plaintiff would have to work through the defendants to obtain the position. 

The plaintiff alleges he approached the defendants about the position but Milam told the plaintiff that there was no position available at that mine. The plaintiff alleges was informed by a white coal miner and friend that the friend had been offered the position, but the defendants never contacted the plaintiff about it.

The plaintiff is seeking all reasonable sums due, attorney fees and court costs. The plaintiff is represented by Mark Goldner of Hughes & Goldner PLLC in Charleston.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number 5:19-CV-00178

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