Gay West Virgina Coal Miner Sues Over Widespread Anti-Gay Harrassment

Sam Hall, a gay coal miner in West Virginia is suing a Massey Energy Co. subsidiary, because co-workers in several mines have repeatedly harassed him because of his sexual orientation. Sam Hall maintains that he was subjected to verbal abuse and invective and lewd gestures by his supervisors and other miners, even after he complained to management.

“Mr. Hall is gay and, given his gender preference, has been harassed by both management and fellow miners. Due to management’s participation and provocation, most of the pervasive ongoing harassment has been caused or encouraged,” the suit states.

The suit, filed by Charleston lawyer Roger Forman, names Massey subsidiary Spartan Mining Co. and No. 2 Gas Mine foreman Randy Thomas as defendants.

Massey Energy vice president and general counsel Shane Harvey called the conduct alleged by Hall “despicable.”. “They are serious allegations, and we take them seriously. We are going to investigate it, and if any of them are true, we are going to take action swiftly to remedy the situation,” he said. “However, at this stage, they are just allegations, and we are going into the investigation with an open mind.”

It all started in 2007 after Hall went horseback riding with a co-worker, the mine’s superintendent, Scott Lansenese, allegedly said that Hall had a “Brokeback Mountain” moment.  After that Mark Delung, a chief electrician, used homophobic slurs and wrote them on Hall’s dinner bucket and then mine’s power center, Hall alleges. When he complained, and management told Delung to stop, the harassment escalated, including vandalism of Hall’s car, where co-workers attached a sign that read, “I like little boys,” according to the suit.

After complaining Hall wass sent to  work at No. 2 Gas Mine, he was again submitted to abuse, according to the suit. Co-workers allegedly shook their penises at Hall underground, and when they were told to stop or be fired, the situation escalated, with slurs being written on his locker.

Hall was then sent to work at No. 5 Block Mine, where the superintendent knew him from the Winifrede mine and would laugh at the abuse directed at Hall, the suit maintains. Hall became worried when the slurs escalated to violent threats, including “I would like to see all faggots die.”

In April 2010, Hall returned to the No. 2 Gas Mine, where mine foreman Randy Thomas engaged in persistent harassment, according to the suit. Mine superintendent Carl Lucas did nothing to stop the abuse and he continues to face threats and harassment.

Hall accuses Spartan Mining Co. and its management of creating an oppressive and hostile work environment, and making no effort to resolve physical threats based on his sexual preference

*The picture above is not Sam Hall or anyone related to this article.


Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, journalist and owner of A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story,

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