A Missouri cement company is in hot water with the federal government after reducing a worker’s wages while she was assisting inspectors during a site visit.
The worker was paid less per hour for the time she spent as a miner representative with U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) inspectors.
A federal administrative law judge ordered Continental Cement Company to pay the worker $388 in lost wages along with a $17,500 fine for violating federal law.
Under the Mine Safety and Health Act, mine operators aren’t allowed to reduce the hourly wage of miners acting as representatives to federal safety agencies during a site visit.
‘She wasn’t doing her normal job’
An MSHA investigation found the company paid the worker, who was a mobile equipment operator, the hourly rate of a general laborer across several days in March and April 2020.
During the days she received lower pay, she was accompanying MSHA inspectors through the mine, acting as a miners’ representative to the agency.
Continental Cement argued it didn’t have to pay the regular wage since the worker wasn’t actually operating mobile equipment at the time.
The judge disagreed, finding the company violated federal safety provisions that protect miners from retaliation for taking part in safety-related activities.
This includes identifying hazards, asking for MSHA inspections or refusing to engage in unsafe acts.