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Vol. 75/No. 42      November 21, 2011

Coal miners challenge bosses’
racial discrimination in hiring
On September 26 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a racial discrimination complaint on behalf of Shawn King and other Black workers who applied for jobs at River View Coal in Waverly, Ky.

Filed in the U.S. District Court for Western Kentucky, the complaint contends that since at least Aug. 1, 2008, River View Coal “has engaged in unlawful employment practices at its Waverly, Kentucky facility” by refusing “to hire Shawn King and a class of Black applicants because of their race.”

The company, a subsidiary of Alliance Resource Partners, rejected an out-of-court settlement of the dispute. The fourth largest eastern U.S. coal producer, ARP has mines in Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, West Virginia and Maryland. The Kentucky mine opened in 2008 and reached full production the following year.

The company held two job fairs in August and September of 2008, EEOC attorney Aimee McFerren, told the Militant. King attended and applied for jobs at both. He applied again in January 2010 and was never granted an interview.

King took courses in mining for two years and has four years experience as an underground miner, McFerren pointed out. He performed various tasks underground, including operating a scoop, shuttle car and roof bolter. Among the others are miners with as many as 15 years underground experience.

The company was taking applications from both experienced and inexperienced miners at the jobs fairs and continued to hire both over the next several years, said McFerren.

“The law requires that individuals be judged on the basis of their qualifications. The fact that these individuals were qualified for the positions—both the inexperienced miner positions and experienced miner positions—means they should have been given a fair chance to compete,” she added.

The suit demands back pay, compensation and punitive damages be paid to King and other Black applicants, and a permanent injunction to prevent the company from engaging in future hiring discrimination.
Related articles:
2 Kentucky miners killed amid bosses’ profit drive
Roof fall at Illinois mine highlights need for union  
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