U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Oil Contractor Fired Black Employee Because of Race and for Protesting Racial Harassment, Federal Agency Charges
NEW ORLEANS – Basic Energy Services, L.P., a major oil well servicing contractor, violated federal law by firing a black employee because of his race and for protesting racial harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed on September 28, 2010.
In its suit, the EEOC charged that the Midland, Texas-based company discharged Rodney Ball from his dispatcher job at the company’s Minden, La., facility location because of his race and in retaliation for complaining about and protesting a racially hostile work environment. After being subjected to racial harassment, including racial slurs and the displaying of a noose with a black stuffed animal hanging from it in a supervisor’s office, Ball twice complained about the racial harassment, the suit alleges. The EEOC charges that Basic Energy unlawfully fired Ball a few days after his last complaint, and that the company treated Ball more harshly than white employees in similar circumstances.
Race discrimination and retaliation for complaining about it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 5:10-cv-01497) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, Shreveport Division, after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking a permanent injunction prohibiting the company from engaging in employment discrimination and retaliation, as well as back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages. This suit is also brought to bring appropriate injunctive relief to others who may have been adversely affected by Basic Energy Services’ discriminatory practices, and to prevent further occurrence of such practices.
“The EEOC is committed to its mission to ensure that employees are not discriminated against in the workplace because of their race,” said Keith Hill, Director of the EEOC’s New Orleans Field Office. “The EEOC also educates employers on the repercussions of discriminating against employees and retaliating against those employees who protest employment discrimination.”
“Title VII and Supreme Court precedent provide that employees have a right to complain about practices they believe are unlawful without repercussions,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Jim Sacher. “Mr. Ball sought to assert that right and was discharged less than a few days later. Retaliation cases like this are a major concern for the EEOC. Sometimes, as here, it is necessary to file a lawsuit to remedy an employer’s unlawful conduct.”
Anyone who believes he or she has been subjected to a discriminatory employment practice is encouraged to contact the EEOC’s New Orleans Field Office, which is located in downtown New Orleans at 1555 Poydras Street. Additional information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.