Early last year, Kentucky coal miner Reuben Shemwell was sued by his own employer for filing a safety discrimination complaint with federal regulators. After settling two lawsuits and getting reinstated at work, Shemwell says the company is now making his job miserable because he continues to raise health and safety concerns at the mine.
In lawsuits filed last week, Shemwell claims fellow welders for Armstrong Coal Co. were instructed by management to “keep notes on what Shemwell did and said” once he returned after the earlier litigation, including writing down if he was “one minute late for work.” The company went so far as to hire a “consultant” to monitor Shemwell all day on the job, according to the lawsuits. And a supervisor told Shemwell that he “may want to think about another career” after Shemwell pointed out potential dangers.
"Shemwell took [the supervisor] to be saying that if he continued to insist on a safe and healthy workplace, his job would be in jeopardy," one of Shemwell’s three complaints states.
Shemwell’s lawyer, Tony Oppegard, said management was trying to find a way to get rid of the welder before he even returned to the mine under his earlier settlement. The treatment, he said, amounts to discrimination.
Welcome to the 1920’s.
You know, this type of thing right here should be pretty good evidence we need labor laws.
The same labor laws people fought and died for, the same labor laws that have been continually chipped away at by corporate interests and the political right.