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.