$150,000 Settlement in Race Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit, Training Ordered

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Question:  Would race discrimination training have prevented this case?  See our trainings at http://www.hrclassroom.com.

Torqued-Up Energy Services, Inc., a Tyler, Texas-based petroleum and gas industry equipment provider, will pay $150,000 and furnish other relief to settle a racial harassment and retaliation suit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

According to the EEOC's suit, an African-American employee of Torqued-Up assigned to a field crew in South Texas experienced racial harassment in the form of racial slurs and epithets from two employees who supervised him on the job.  According to the EEOC, the employee, who had 30 years of experience in the oil industry, reported the racial harassment to Torqued-Up's management, but instead of putting a stop to it, the company unlawfully retaliated against him.  The punishment included removing the man from his crew and assigning him to perform menial tasks such as washing trucks and sweeping, rather than the oil field work that he had been hired to perform, and reducing his work hours, thereby reducing his income.

The EEOC also accused Torqued-Up's management of retaliating against this employee by interfering in subsequent job opportunities after his employment with Torqued-Up ended.  Torqued-Up management discouraged at least one other employer from continuing to employ the man, the EEOC said.

Race discrimination and retaliation for opposing or reporting it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The EEOC filed suit filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Victoria Division (Civil Action No. 6:12-cv-00051) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The two-year consent decree resolving this case, approved by U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa, requires Torqued-Up to implement an anti-discrimination policy that prohibits discrimination against employees on the basis of race and/or retaliation in violation of Title VII; post a notice regarding its commitment to protect employees from harassment; provide training to all of its employees; and pay $150,000 to the victim.

Torqued-Up Energy Services provides coiled tubing, pressure pumping, wrenching, testing and fracturing services to the petroleum and gas industry in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

In Fiscal Year 2012, the EEOC received 33,512 charge filings alleging race-based discrimination.  This accounted for 33.7 percent of all charges filed with the EEOC in Fiscal Year 2012.

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