Three years after his brother was killed by a piece of mining equipment, Richard Coots was terminated from his mining job after pointing out potential dangers. Mines use the Automated Temporary Roof Support System (ATRS) to help prevent cave ins. The ATRS is to be used in conjunction with roof bolting machines.
As detailed in this Huffington Post article, after he was hired to repair old roof bolts at Lone Mountain, Coots was told by a manager to stop using the ATRS. The manager explained that the work would take too long if he continued to use the system. Even though he had concerns regarding his own safety, Coots continued to work as directed.
During a staff meeting, a supervisor asked if anyone had any safety concerns.Coots voiced his concerns and was told by the mine foreman to see him after the meeting, at which time the foreman told Coots that they did not have time to use the ATRS. Coots’ employment with the mine was terminated the next day.
An application to temporarily place Coots back into his job with the mine has been submitted by the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. In its application, the Labor Department alleges that Lone Mountain disciplined and discharged Coots for expressing his safety concerns.
“What happened to Richard Coots never should have happened,” stated Coots’ attorney. In reference to the death of Coots’ brother, “You can imagine why safety would be so important to you as you continued to work in the mines.”
If you or someone you know thinks they have experienced retaliation due to a protected activity, the team at Radford & Keebaugh can help. Contact us by phone at (678) 369-3609 or use our contact form.