Drilling Rigs Rejected Female Workers Because of Their Sex, Federal Agency Charges
PHOENIX - Unit Corporation and its wholly owned subsidiary, Unit Drilling Company, violated federal law when they refused to hire women to work for the company's drilling operations, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed in Salt Lake City on Friday. One of the largest onshore drilling companies in the United States, Unit maintains its headquarters in Tulsa, Okla., and, according to its website, operates 127 drilling rigs in approximately 13 Western and Midwestern states.
According to the EEOC's suit, Unit has over 2,000 employees and has not hired women to work at their drilling operations since at least 2008. One hiring official told a female job applicant that he would "never hire a girl" because male employees would pay attention to a woman on the job to the detriment of their work, the EEOC said. Another hiring official told a female job applicant that the company couldn't hire her because they "couldn't have the guys looking at" her instead of working. Company officials also told a female applicant that they could not hire her because Unit did not have housing facilities for women in its company-provided housing known as a "mancamp," even though male employees were not required to live at the "mancamp." The suit alleges that Unit continued hiring men for open positions even after rejecting the female applicants.
Sex discrimination in hiring violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, Central Division (Case No. 2:12-cv-00917-DBP), after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The agency seeks lost wages for at least five women who sought employment with Unit, as well as compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief.
"It is both unlawful and illogical for any employer -even those in traditionally male-dominated industries - to reject qualified job applicants just because they are women," said Mary O'Neill, regional attorney for the EEOC's Phoenix District. "Women are productive workers in every part of our economy, and they must be given an equal opportunity to compete for jobs, whether in an office or on a drilling rig."
Rayford O. Irvin, district director for the Phoenix District added, "Employers who base hiring decisions on sexist stereotypes instead of objective assessments of candidates' qualifications are violating the law. Women and men successfully work side by side in virtually every imaginable field, and it is a disservice to all hard-working Americans to think that women aren't capable or that men can't control themselves."
The EEOC's Phoenix District has jurisdiction over Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and most of New Mexico.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.