An hourly employee who supervised a four-person team, but had no control over hiring, selecting or disciplining team members, is not an agent under the Mine Act, a judge has ruled.
An “agent” is any person charged with responsibility for the operation of all or part of a mine or the supervision of miners there (Section 3(e) of the Act). In prior rulings, including a precedent setting case won by Jackson Lewis shareholder, Henry Chajet, Martin Marietta Aggregates, 22 FMSHRC 633 (May 2000), the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission has focused on a miner’s job functions, not his title, in determining questions of agent status.
Administrative Law Judge James Gilbert said a process manager working for Taft Production Co., a cat litter producer in California, was not an agent based on his job duties. While the employee gave his team members tasks to complete and supervised them, he neither hired nor selected them for his team. Personnel issues were handled by the manager’s boss. In addition, Gilbert said, “No evidence was presented that [manager] was responsible for the safety of his team or for ensuring compliance with mandatory safety standards.”
Finding that the manager’s duties “weigh more heavily toward a rank and file miner,” Gilbert determined he was not an agent.
In addition, during an inspection in August 2012, MSHA cited the employer for four housekeeping violations. Gilbert upheld all of them and concurred with MSHA’s $3,321 assessment.