$4.25 Million Awarded by Consent Decree to Female Applicants at Affiliated Mining Companies

Thursday, January 26, 2017
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC) announced that it has resolved two lawsuits against a group of affiliated coal mining companies that it had accused of hiring practices that effectively excluded women from working in the underground mines and in other coal production positions. The cases were resolved by a single consent decree entered by Senior District Judge J. Phil Gilbert. The decree calls for the mining companies to jointly pay a total of $4.25 million to a group of women applicants who were denied jobs because of sex discrimination. Additionally, the companies have agreed to hiring goals that are expected to result in at least 34 women being hired into coal production jobs in their mines that operate in Illinois.

Sex discrimination in hiring violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. EEOC filed suit against Marion, Ill.-based Mach Mining, LLC on Sept. 27, 2011 (case number 11-cv-00879-JPG) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois in Benton, Ill., after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

During the course of the litigation, a procedural matter - the standard by which courts were to determine whether EEOC had met its obligation to try to resolve cases before bringing suit - was sent to the Seventh Circuit court of appeals and ultimately to the U.S. Supreme Court for an initial ruling, which was decided by the Supreme Court on April 29, 2015. The litigation of the merits was put on hold while that issue was on appeal. On December 5, 2016, EEOC filed a second lawsuit naming certain affiliates of Mach which, along with Mach, are part of St. Louis-based Foresight Energy. The entities named in the second suit were Foresight Energy Services LLC, Foresight Energy LLC, Foresight Energy LP, Foresight Energy Labor LLC, Hillsboro Energy LLC, Macoupin Energy LLC, MaRyan Mining LLC, M-Class Mining LLC, Patton Mining LLC, Sugar Camp Energy LLC, Viking Mine LLC, and Williamson Energy LLC.

The second suit came from a discrimination charge brought against the companies by EEOC Chair Jenny Yang. The two cases were consolidated for purposes of resolution.

In addition to providing for monetary relief to a class of female applicants and deterred applicants, and female hiring goals at Foresight's Illinois mines, the decree calls for training of Foresight personnel, regular reporting to EEOC on compliance with the decree's terms for four years, and posting at the mines notices informing employees of the decree's terms.
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