The United States’ federal government has put in place a lot of labor laws to protect the rights of not just the workers but of employers as well. Though it is not a common scenario, employers and big companies also fall victims to abusive workers that serve as a drag for them to hit their production targets. Such employees slow down, if not impede a company’s growth. That is why under these laws employers are allowed to file charges against their workers.
The dangers of the mining industry
The mining industry is a dangerous one. That is why operators must invest in putting in place rules and tools for the safety of every worker. However these measures can get a bit too tedious and can also get quite pricey. That is why some mining operators and companies fail to deliver on these safety and health issues for workers.
Discrimination and harassment
Recently, a mining company at Madisonville, Ky. was sued by one of their miners for allegedly discharging him as a form of retaliation. The worker was said to be terminated by the company after he participated in a safety complaint to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Then in a move to harass him, the company filed a charge against the employee, invoking the protection granted by the First Amendment of the Miners, demanding a huge payout to settle the case.
Judge junks the mining company’s suit
However, in an ironic twist of fate, the judge of the court where the company filed the suit ruled in favor of the miner. According to the judge, the charge filed is not eligible for the protection offered by the First Amendment. The judge calls the nature of the worker’s termination baseless and retaliatory. He added that this will “dissuade a reasonable miner from making or supporting a charge of discrimination.” Moreover, the Mine Act preempts such protection that the First Amendment offers, making the company’s case irrelevant.
The protection that the MSHA offers to miners
The civil action made by the company is a clear violation of labor laws. In the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, the discharge, discrimination, or prevention from exercising statutory rights of a mining employee is prohibited. This is especially true if the worker has been a part of a protected activity like filing a complaint about a safety or health violation; or if they are refusing to work under unsafe or unhealthy conditions.
The mining industry is a very dangerous one. That is why more than anything, the safety of its workers should be everybody’s first and foremost concern. While there would be challenges and things won’t be easy, employees in the mining industry should do everything to make their workplace safer.