National Public Radio (NPR) is reporting that a federal administrative judge has ordered that the Massey Coal Company temporarily reinstate whistleblower Ricky Lee Campbell while his retaliation case is pending. Campbell drove coal shuttle cars and bolted mine roofs at the Upper Big Branch and Massey’s Slip Ridge Cedar Grove mine. He complained about problems with the brakes and power pedals. He was fired before the April 5 explosion killed 29 of his coworkers.
The Federal Mine Safety and Health Act, 30 U.S.C. § 815(c), contains one of the best preliminary reinstatement provisions for whistleblowers. Unless the administrative judge finds that the complaint is frivolous, then the law requires that the whistleblower get a preliminary reinstatement order to keep working while the case proceeds. That is the order Campbell has just received.
The Mine Safety and Health Act has a short statute of limitations, though — just sixty (60) days. This type of unevenness (laws strong on some points and weak on others) shows why we need a comprehensive whistleblower law that will give all whistleblowers the benefits of modern whistleblower laws. Massey, meanwhile, is promising to appeal the order reinstating Campbell.