An Illinois miner class action lawsuit was recently filed against coal mining company Alliance Resource Partners, L.P. The suit, filed by former employee Carl Leeper, states that the company terminated more than 200 employees with barely 24 hours’ notice, which is well under the required time mandated by U.S. law. Leeper has stated that he is taking a stand against these unfair firings for all Southern Illinois coal workers, who rely on companies like Alliance for their livelihoods.
The coal industry in Illinois, as well as throughout the U.S., has been in decline for years. New methods of mineral extraction, such as fracking, have led to many coal mines across America being shut down, leaving areas such as southern Illinois feeling the negative effects. Still, no matter the state of the industry, companies like Alliance are required to follow certain laws regarding their employees. The most notable is the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), which has been in effect since 1989.
What is WARN and How Does It Relate to this Class Action?
WARN requires employers to inform their employees at least 60 days before mass layoffs or the closing of a location. There are some exemptions, such as businesses that have under 100 employees, but none apply to the large, successful Alliance Resource Partners that is the subject of the Illinois class action lawsuit. This law was enacted in order to give employees ample time to search for a new job, and to give them warning so that they can manage their lives and finances to accommodate a period of unemployment, if that is the result.
According to Leeper’s lawsuit, Alliance barely gave employees one day of notice before they all found themselves without jobs. The notice the miners received did include a possible rehire date, but it would still leave workers without jobs, benefits or health insurance for nearly six months. The class action lawsuit is for unpaid wages and benefits, as well as punitive damages for Leeper and the rest of the over 200 coal mine workers who were laid off by Alliance.
The coal industry is notoriously dangerous, and many companies try to make up for declining profits by ignoring safety concerns and regulations, which can easily lead to accidents causing serious personal injury or even death. Others, like Alliance, have cut down a large part of their workforce in order to save money. The future is uncertain for coal mining and the people who depend on it, but that is no excuse for mining companies to ignore the laws put in place to protect their employees.
Our Illinois and Missouri personal injury lawyers have been representing the rights of coal mine workers for years. If you have been injured in an accident while working for a coal company, call us today for a free consultation.