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MSHA wants discharged miner reinstated

By |  May 17, 2012

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has filed a complaint with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission against Ferraiolo Construction Inc. to reinstate a worker to his former position and provide compensation for wages lost as a result of him being unlawfully fired.

A complaint was filed with MSHA last November against Ferraiolo, alleging that the company had terminated the miner’s employment back in September at Portable Pioneer Plant, a Thomaston, Maine-based stone-crushing operation. The miner alleges his employment was terminated in retaliation for making recurring safety complaints.

MSHA investigated the complaint and found the miner had engaged in protected activity when he alerted Portable Pioneer Plant about unresolved safety problems, refused to turn on the plant’s generator until required safety guards had been installed, and called MSHA to report the company’s failure to install those safety guards.

“Every miner has the right to identify hazardous conditions and refuse unsafe work without fear of discrimination or retaliation,” says Joseph A. Main, MSHA assistant secretary of labor.

MSHA seeks a finding from the commission that Ferraiolo discriminated against the worker in violation of Section 105(c) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, which states that miners are protected from retaliation for engaging in safety or health-related activities, such as identifying hazards, asking for MSHA inspections or refusing to engage in unsafe acts.

An administrative law judge from the review commission will determine whether the miner, a general laborer since 2007, had engaged in activities protected under the Mine Act, and whether Portable Pioneer Plant officials took adverse action against him in retaliation for those activities.

MSHA is seeking an order requiring Ferraiolo to cease and desist from discharging or discriminating against the miner. MSHA also wants Ferraiolo to remove any adverse references related to the events from his personnel file, as well as extend an offer of reinstating him to his former position. MSHA seeks a $20,000 civil penalty, as well.

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry magazine. Yanik can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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