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Mine worker claims retaliatory firing, sexual harassment

By Molly English-Bowers | Mar 23, 2016

NASHVILLE – A former employee of a coal mine is suing over several situations she allegedly experienced there, including claims of retaliatory firing and sexual harassment.

Terri Qualls filed the suit Jan. 29 in Washington County Circuit Court against Prairie State Coal Mine.

In July 2014, the plaintiff was working as a contract employee at the mine, the suit says. On July 15, 2014, federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) investigators inspected the mine and notified the mine's supervisory personnel that screw jacks were improperly used there, in violation of mine safety regulations, according to the complaint. The inspectors did not issue citations for the violations, but warned mine officials to correct the matter, the suit alleges.

On July 16, the plaintiff was assigned to work in the area with the screw jacks, according to the suit. The suit alleges a jack fell and struck her on the shoulder and neck, causing her serious injury. Shortly thereafter, a friend of the plaintiff called the MSHA about the injury, the suit states.

On Jan. 9, 2015, the plaintiff was fired, the suit alleges, in retaliation for cooperating with law enforcement regarding the screw jack and her injury. Her firing allegedly violates the Illinois Whistle Blower Act.

Because of the alleged negligence by the defendant, the plaintiff has endured pain and suffering, lost wages and loss of a normal life, according to the suit.

Additionally, during her employment at the defendant mine, the suit alleges the plaintiff was subjected to sexual harassment from Richard Stoops. She complained to management about it, was removed but then later returned to the hostile work environment, according to the complaint.

As a result of the defendant's alleged failure to correct the situation, the plaintiff suffered intentional infliction of emotional distress and sexual harassment, the suit claims.

The plaintiff seeks a judgment against the defendant of a sum in excess of $50,000. She is represented by William J. Meacham in Edwardsville.

Washington County Circuit Court case number 16-cv-00224

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