4:56pm

Thu September 29, 2011
The Commonwealth

Government Alleges Coal Company Discrimination

The federal government has filed a lawsuit on behalf of thirteen Kentucky coal miners who say they were discriminated against over their race. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the lawsuit earlier this week in the Western District of Kentucky against River View Coal. The lawsuit alleges that thirteen African-American miners who applied for jobs at River View Coal’s mine in Union County were rejected because of their race.

According to the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the company employs about 520 underground miners at the site, which is in Waverly.

Aimee McFerrin is an attorney with the EEOC’s Louisville office. She says discrimination isn’t subjective, and there are a number of ways to prove inequality in cases like this one.

“You look at the number of available qualified minorities in the area compared to the area that are actually applying compared to the number that are actually getting hired,” McFerrin said. “And then you compare that with the number of whites who are getting interviewed and hired in the area. And you look to see if there’s a statistical disparity.”

The EEOC is asking for a jury trial to recoup damages for the coal miners, as well as seek injunctive relief against the company to change its hiring practices.

River View Coal is owned by Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Alliance Resource Partners, and a spokesperson didn’t return a request for comment.