Title: Federal Mine Safety and Health Act
Statute: 30 U.S.C. § 815
Governing Agency: United States Department of Labor
General Overview: This federal act requires mines to be inspected yearly to ensure safe and healthy working environment for miners. Mine workers are exposed to some of the most dangerous working conditions of any employee in the United States. Some of the common dangers include: explosions, dangerous machinery, slides, collapsing shafts, black lung disease, and vision and hearing impairment. Due to this laundry list of safety concerns, this statute was passed to encourage the reporting of problems to the appropriate agencies to avoid potential disaster.
Who is covered?:
-Mine owners, operators, lessees
-Independent contractors performing service or construction on a mine
-Any other party who operates, controls, or supervises a coal or other mine
Who is not covered?:
Any party listed above whose mine products do not enter into or affect commerce of the United States
What is covered?:
-Parties under this act cannot be discriminated against or retaliated for:
-orally requesting immediate inspections of safety hazards by representative (if made to supervisor or union rep.)
-refusing to work in hazardous conditions (reasonably believe danger to life or limb, or excessive coal dust or noise)
-designating a representative to be present during inspections of mines
-participating in any legal proceedings protected under this act
-being paid for shut down periods
-Illegal retaliation by employers includes:
-discharging claiming party
-denial of promotions
-refusal to hire
-unjustified negative evaluations
-any conduct that gives rise to criminal charges
*Note: Petty, slight actions are not considered acts of discrimination. Some of these include: annoyances, such as stray negative comments in an otherwise positive or neutral evaluation, "snubbing" a colleague, or negative comments that are justified by an employee's poor work performance or history.
1. If you believe your employer has violated a provision of this act you must submit a claim within 60 days of the date of the alleged violation. Claims are to be submitted to the Secretary of Labor.- DOL’s contact information
2. Within 15 days of the complaint being filed the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration will begin an investigation and can file suit on claiming party’s behalf.
3. If a violation is found by the Secretary of Labor they will file a complaint with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. After this complaint is filed, service of process must be made to all parties involved notifying the time and place of hearing.
4. If the Secretary of Labor determines no violation is present, the claiming party may file a claim with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Commission. This must be filed within 30 days of the Secretary of Labor issuing their decision.
5. After the investigation, discovery and evidence is gathered the case will be heard by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) from the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. This ALJ will issue a binding ruling.
6. Either party has 30 days to appeal the ALJ ruling. This ruling does not have to be fully appealed, can be partially appealed to modify the remedy. The Federal Mine Safety and Health Commission will hear the appeals. Form to request this appeal
7. Reviews of the ALJ decisions can be sought in U.S. Court of Appeals in the jurisdiction which the alleged violation occurred. Either party will have 30 days to file this appeal after the ALJ ruling.
Rights and Remedies:
-Penalty of up to ,000 per violation against a mine operator
-Penalty of up to for “non-serious” violations
-Reinstatement of employee
-Back pay (with interest)
-Reasonable attorney’s fees
Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration
Federal Mine Safety and Health Commission FAQ’s