Western Kentucky coal miner Reuben Shemwell was fired by Armstrong Coal after reporting safety violations at the surface mine where he worked. As ACLC worked to get him reinstated to his job, the company turned around and sued Shemwell in state court in Kentucky for filing a federal safety discrimination claim. A federal judge ordered Armstrong to drop the suit, stating, “It is paramount that miners must be insulated from any chilling effect that would inhibit their willingness to report safety related concerns to mine management…. Can anyone deny that the prospect of a miner being sued in state court for filing a protected complaint that is pending before the Commission is a significant disincentive for miner participation?”
Days after Armstrong Coal was ordered to drop their suit against Shemwell, his case against them was settled. ““If a company could sue a miner for standing up for himself then the miners would be screwed,” Shemwell said, in a story on West Virginia Public Radio.