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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission



PRESS RELEASE
9-27-12

Performance Drilling to Pay $28,000 to Settle Race Discrimination Lawsuit with EEOC

Company Subjected Black Employee to Racial Harassment,  Including Noose Displays, Then Fired Him for Complaining,  Federal Agency Charged

JACKSON, Miss. - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity  Commission announced today that it settled, for $28,000 and other relief, a  race discrimination lawsuit against Performance Drilling Company LLC. Brandon,  Miss.-based Performance Drilling provides land drilling services for natural  gas and oil exploration and production companies in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana,  Florida and East Texas.  Prior to  settlement, Performance Drilling filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The EEOC's lawsuit alleged that Performance Drilling  subjected a black employee to racial harassment, including racial taunts and  insults, and then terminated him in retaliation for his opposition to the  misconduct.  The harassment included the  display of a noose, and the use of racially derogatory terms by a  supervisor.  At the time, the victim,  Darius Swington, was the only African-American employee at the worksite.

Race discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights  Act of 1964.  The EEOC filed suit (No. 3:10-CV-00540)  in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, Southern  Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through  its conciliation process.

The  settlement, memorialized in a two-year consent decree issued by the court on  Sept. 26, includes  $28,000 in monetary relief for Swington.   The decree requires Performance Drilling to implement new policies and practices  designed to prevent harassment, conduct employee training on  anti-discrimination laws, and post notices at the work site.  For the decree's two-year period, Performance  Drilling is also required to  provide reports to the EEOC on complaints of race discrimination. 

C. Emanuel Smith, regional attorney for the EEOC's  Birmingham District Office, said, "The EEOC is poised to navigate through the  Chapter 11 bankruptcy process in order to bring to justice employers who allow  the type of egregious misconduct to which this victim was subjected."

 Delner  Franklin-Thomas, district director for the EEOC's Birmingham District Office,  added, "Employers who allow their workplaces to be havens for racial harassment  and antagonism are not meeting their obligations under federal law. When employers choose not to meet those  obligations, the EEOC is prepared to pursue all appropriate means to hold them  accountable."

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws  prohibiting employment discrimination.   The EEOC's Birmingham District covers Alabama, Mississippi (except 17  northern counties) and the Florida Panhandle.   Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.