MSHA Orders Wyoming Mine to Pay $40,000, Reinstate Employee

An employee claimed that the management's lack of concern over safety complaints raised by mine workers and her unlawful discharge had a chilling effect on the willingness of other miners to raise safety issues at the mine.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration recently announced that an administrative law judge with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission has ordered Cordero Mining LLC of Gillette, Wyo., to pay a $40,000 civil penalty as well as reinstate an employee to her former position, provide compensation for lost wages, and remove personnel files referencing the unlawful discharge.

On May 4, 2010, Cindy L. Clapp filed a complaint with MSHA against Cordero, alleging that the coal mining company had terminated her employment at Cordero Mine in Campbell County in retaliation for her repeated safety complaints. Clapp claimed that the management's lack of concern over safety complaints raised by mine workers and her unlawful discharge had a chilling effect on the willingness of other miners to raise safety issues at the mine.

MSHA sought a finding from the commission that Cordero Mining had unlawfully discriminated against an employee in violation of Section 105(c) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, which states that miners, their representatives, and applicants for employment are protected from retaliation for engaging in safety and/or health-related activities, such as identifying hazards, asking for MSHA inspections, or refusing to engage in an unsafe act.

Administrative Law Judge Thomas P. McCarthy concluded that Clapp, a shovel operator with 28 years of experience as a miner, had engaged in protected activity under the Mine Act, and Cordero took adverse action against her in retaliation for her complaints.

In the Dec. 5, 2011, decision, the administrative law judge ordered Cordero to cease and desist from discharging or otherwise discriminating against Clapp or any other miner because she or he engage in protected activity, and from interfering with miners who exercise the rights guaranteed by the Mine Act. Additionally, he ordered the company to take "affirmative action necessary to effectuate the policies of the Mine Act" within 14 days of the order and post a copy of the legal decision. The $40,000 penalty is twice the amount originally sought by the Labor Department.

"Every miner has the right to identify hazardous conditions and refuse unsafe work without fear of discrimination or retaliation," said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "The Mine Act allows miners to exercise this right without fear of being fired, demoted, harassed, transferred, refused employment, or suffering any loss of wages."

Cordero has appealed McCarthy's decision to the review commission and requested that it stay the enforcement of the order during the appeal.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • The Top 5 Safety and Technology Trends to Watch in 2019

    Get the latest on trends you can expect to hear more about in 2019, including continued growth of mobile safety applications, wearable technology, and smart PPE; autonomous vehicles; pending OSHA recordkeeping rulemaking; and increased adoption of international safety standard, ISO 45001.

  • Get the Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping

    OSHA’s Form 300A posting deadline is February 1! Are you prepared? To help answer your key recordkeeping questions, IndustrySafe put together this guide with critical compliance information.

  • Safety Training 101

    When it comes to safety training, no matter the industry, there are always questions regarding requirements and certifications. We’ve put together a guide on key safety training topics, requirements for certifications, and answers to common training questions.

  • Conduct EHS Inspections and Audits

    Record and manage your organization’s inspection data with IndustrySafe’s Inspections module. IndustrySafe’s pre-built forms and checklists may be used as is, or can be customized to better suit the needs of your organization.

  • Industry Safe

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - January 2019

    January 2019

    Featuring:

    • PREVENTING ERRORS
      Production vs. Safety 
    • EMERGENCY SHOWERS & EYEWASH
      Meeting the Requirements for Emergency Equipment
    • CONSTRUCTION SAFETY
      The State of Contractor Safety
    • FOOT PROTECTION
      The Three Keys to Effective Chemical Management
    View This Issue