Gay coal miner sues Massey subsidiary, alleging harassment

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (BestGrowthStock) – A gay West Virginia coal miner has sued a Massey Energy Co. subsidiary, saying co-workers have harassed him because of his sexual orientation, his lawyer said on Monday.

Sam Hall alleges that since he started at Spartan Mining Co. mines in 2005, he has been harassed through verbal taunts, gay slurs written on his lunch bucket and locker, and a cardboard sign on his car reading “I like little boys,” according to the suit, filed earlier this month.

The suit said Hall became “seriously worried” because the slurs escalated to violent threats, such as “I would like to see all faggots die.”

“He wants to be treated with decency so he can have a safe work site,” said Hall’s lawyer, Roger Forman, who filed the suit in the Kanawha County Circuit Court in Charleston, West Virginia.

Forman said coal mining is dangerous and miners need to work as a team.

“When you have people who are mocking someone, it’s a safety issue,” Forman told Reuters by phone.

The suit said that a foreman at one of the mines was suspended for three days as a result of Hall’s complaints. Hall was transferred to another mine, where he still works. But Hall says he continues to face threats and harassment, including threats of being personally harmed.

In an e-mail on Monday, Massey general counsel Shane Harvey said coal miners work hard and “every miner deserves respect — without exception.”

Harvey said the company will investigate the allegations “thoroughly” and take whatever steps are needed to address the matter.

Hall seeks unspecified monetary damages and for the harassment to stop, Forman said.

Massey, based in Richmond, Va., is one of the country’s largest coal producers. An explosion at a Massey mine in West Virginia in April killed 29 workers in what was the nation’s worst coal-mining accident in 40 years.

(Additional reporting by Eric Johnson and Joe Rauch)

(Writing by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Jerry Norton)

Gay coal miner sues Massey subsidiary, alleging harassment