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Labor & Employment

Coal Miner Who Videotaped Seal Leaks Wins Discipline Reversal & Legal Fees

Posted Aug 25, 2010 3:55 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A Kentucky coal miner who videotaped leaking seals at work and showed the footage at a federal mine safety hearing has won a reversal of the subsequent disciplinary action taken by his employer and attorney fees.

Federal mine-safety law protected Charles Scott Howard from retaliation, an administrative law judge ruled last week in the Letcher County case. He required Cumberland River Coal Co. to remove a letter of reprimand from Howard's file for showing the video footage without a supervisor's permission and reimburse his legal costs in the case, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal. Its article relies in part on information from the Associated Press.

The company is a division of Arch Coal, which declined to comment on the ruling.

Howard, 50, has a reputation as a fearless mine-safety activist who has filed several employment actions, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader.

"He is the most safety-active coal miner in the United States. I've never heard of anyone like him," says his lawyer, Tony Oppegard, who formerly worked for federal and state mine-safety agencies.

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