Settlement Reached in Lawsuit Involving Wyoming Coal Workers

March 26, 2020

Attorneys representing Wyoming coal miners reached a settlement in a class action lawsuit against a bankrupt coal operator.

The settlement with Blackjewel LLC of West Virginia requires final approval by a federal judge, The Casper Star-Tribune reports.

The lawsuit alleged the coal operator violated federal labor law by failing to notify or compensate hundreds of workers before abruptly closing its mines.

The judge needs to issue a decision before the court releases details of the settlement, which remain sealed, attorney Ned Pillersdorf said.

“We have reached a comprehensive settlement with everyone involved in litigation,” Pillersdorf said while addressing Blackjewel workers during a live social media broadcast Tuesday.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of about 1,700 Blackjewel miners and other workers affected by the closures at two Wyoming mines and others in Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia in July.

The lawsuit filed in a West Virginia federal court alleged Blackjewel violated the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act when then-CEO Jeffrey Hoops failed to give sufficient written notice of the layoffs or offer 60 days of wages.

Under the legislation known as the WARN Act, the workers would be entitled to wages and benefits, court filings said.

Though the mines have reopened under new ownership, attorneys, creditors and workers continue to battle over outstanding legal issues in federal bankruptcy court.

A majority of former Blackjewel workers have yet to receive the full compensation they were promised, according to investigations by Wyoming’s Labor Standards Office.

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