As if we didn’t already think the coal industry was sufficiently evil, a West Virginia mining plant foreman just slapped a wrongful termination lawsuit on Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray. Because she’s a woman? Partly… but that’s not all.
The Charleston Gazette reports Jean F. Cochinour claims Murray had her sacked in May, 2014 because she wouldn’t donate to Republican candidates. Her lawsuit, filed with the Monongalia County Circuit Court. states:
Not only did Mr. Murray name candidates and specify the amount to be contributed to each candidate, but he also required that the political contributions be returned directly to him in a self-addressed envelope that he enclosed with each of his letters to her.
Cochinour’s lawsuit also claims gender discrimination. She was the only female prep plant foreman, and the only one to lose her job, “even though she had done nothing wrong in her work.” And, to add insult to injury, Cochinour claims Murray continued sending her donation requests after he fired her!
Of course Murray Energy’s spokesman claims they fired Cochinour because of her allegedly poor job performance.
“Their statements are blatantly false and totally concocted. Indeed, Ms. Cochenour was fired because she failed to perform her job adequately. Undoubtedly, her lack of management cost Murray Energy Corporation hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Funny, how employees’ job performance often seems to conveniently decline when their companies get bought by larger companies — as happened when Murray Energy bought out Cochinour’s mining plant back in 2013.
Murray’s long history as the ‘Coal miner’s donor.’
Cochinour’s claims would sound absurd, except that Murray has a pro-coal political action committee (PAC), and is so well-known for his GOP fundraising, the Alec McGillis from The New Republic wryly dubbed him “Coal Miner’s Donor,” in homage to the classic by country singer Loretta Lynn.
Huffington Post reports
CEO Robert Murray has been a voracious defender of the coal industry, and his Murray Energy Corporation Political Action Committee has funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars every year exclusively to Republican candidates. The lawsuit alleges that Murray has a “long history” of requiring his managers to donate to the PAC.
Nor is this the first time Murray has been accused of forcing workers to support Republican candidates. During the 2012 election cycle, Murray made headlines when he forced workers to attend a rally for the GOP’s then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney — without pay. And at the time, according to McGillis, two other workers had come forward with complaints similar to Cochinour’s:
The Murray sources, who requested anonymity for fear of retribution, came forward separately. But they painted similar pictures of the fund-raising operation. “There’s a lot of coercion,” says one of them. “I just wanted to work, but you feel this constant pressure that, if you don’t contribute, your job’s at stake. You’re compelled to do this whether you want to or not.” Says the second: “They will give you a call if you’re not giving. . . . It’s expected you give Mr. Murray what he asks for.”
Here’s the video with David Pakman’s report on how Murray Energy required workers to attend a rally for Mitt Romney back in 2012.