Contractor Must Pay Back Wages for Pa. Mine Work

A Maryland-based contractor for Consol owes a $2.4 million judgment to underground mine workers, including to a Wheeling man who brought the class-action lawsuit over unpaid wages, a Washington County judge ruled.

Common Pleas Judge Michael J. Lucas’ ordered a judgment in that amount against GMS Mine Repair & Maintenance, which is headquartered in Garrett County.

The jury’s verdict held that the company failed to pay nonunion workers at Enlow Fork Mine for time they spent on the clock every day outside their regular shifts over a two-year period from April 2012 to April 2014 while they took a shuttle between an off-site parking lot and the mine portal in West Finley Township.

Joseph A. Bonds of Wheeling, W.Va., was the lead plaintiff in a class of 556 GMS employees. The Washington County jury issued its verdict – in which it found GMS had violated the state minimum wage law and breached an oral contract with employees – in September. GMS, a major provider of workers for Consol’s Bailey Mining Complex, which is the largest underground coal-mining complex in North America, asked Lucas to reconsider the jury’s verdict.

Lucas, in a 33-page opinion filed on Aug. 9, rejected the company’s request for post-trial relief, including a new trial. He ordered the company to pay the $1.2 million in back wages that the parties had agreed to following the trial. Lucas also ordered the company to pay $405,000 in liquidated damages under the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law and $418,000 in interest.

As part of its challenge to the outcome of the case, GMS had also argued that it was improper to treat the workers’ lawsuit as a class action.

“The evidence showed and the jury found that GMS required Mr. Bonds and the class to report early to work at the Enlow Fork satellite parking lot and to remain at the mine bathhouse after their shifts in order to board the GMS shuttle,” Lucas wrote. “Accordingly, it is appropriate that this matter be brought as a class action because the evidence showed that every GMS employee was required to arrive by a specific time before their shift and required to wait after their shift for a shuttle.”

It is unclear if GMS will appeal. A message left at the Levicoff Law Firm in Pittsburgh, which represented the company, wasn’t immediately returned on Monday afternoon.

The judge did reduce the amount he amount the plaintiffs’ attorneys originally calculated as the amount GMS owed. He still awarded nearly $349,900 in attorneys fees to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, who are from the firm Weisberg Cummings, plus more than $25,500 in costs.

Lucas also decided GMS must plaintiffs $405,000 in liquidated damages under the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law and another $418,000 in attorney fees.


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