Gay Miner Sues for Harassment, Threats

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com December 28 2010 1:40 PM ET

A gay coal miner in West Virginia is suing his employer, a Massey Energy
Co. subsidiary, saying several of his coworkers have harassed
him because of his sexual orientation.

Miner Sam Hall's suit claims he was the subject of verbal harassment and lewd gestures by his supervisors, and that his complaints to managers went ignored, according to The Charleston Gazette. When Hall started working at one particular mine in 2007, a chief electrician used homophobic slurs against him and wrote them on Hall's dinner bucket. Though management stepped in after Hall complained, the behavior then escalated, and someone allegedly attached a sign to his car that read, "I like little boys."

At another gas mine, coworkers shook their penises at Hall, but when the harassment was reported, the coworkers wrote slurs on his locker.

"They are serious allegations, and we take them seriously," Massey Energy vice president and general counsel Shane Harvey told the Gazette. "We are going to investigate it, and if any of them are true, we are going to take action swiftly to remedy the situation. However, at this stage, they are just allegations, and we are going into the investigation with an open mind."

The suit, assigned to Kanawha County circuit court judge Duke Bloom, seeks damages for lost wages and emotional distress.