Oilfield Company Fired Filipino Employee for Complaining About Race and National Origin Harassment, Federal Agency Charged
MINNEAPOLIS - American Casing & Equipment, Inc., a North Dakota oilfield service company operating in Williston, N.D., will pay $250,000 and provide significant other relief to settle a race and national origin discrimination and retaliation lawsuit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
According to EEOC's lawsuit, Matthew Clark, a Filipino-American, worked for American Casing & Equipment in Williston from November 2012 to January 2014 as a laborer on the "rat hole crew," which included cutting, welding and cementing pipes, drilling holes and putting pipes in the ground, along with other duties. Shortly after he began working, Clark, who is Filipino-American, was harassed by a white manager because of his race and national origin. The harassment included the manager calling Clark a "non-white m----f----r," "non-white guy," "spic," "n----r," "monkey" and "ape." On one occasion, the manager urinated on Clark's legs as he worked under a truck in the shop, EEOC alleged. The harassment was witnessed by Clark's supervisor, but no action was taken to stop it. According to EEOC's lawsuit, Clark complained to the company's safety manager about the harassment, and he was fired in retaliation for his opposition to the abuse.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. American Casing & Equipment, Inc.; Civil Action No. 4:15-cv-00066 (DLH-CSM)), after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The consent decree settling the suit, signed by U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland on May 24, 2016, provides $250,000 in monetary relief to Clark. As part of the two-year decree, American Casing & Equipment will train all of its managers, supervisors and employees on the federal law prohibiting race and national origin discrimination and retaliation. The company will also develop, implement or revise its performance evaluation criteria for managers and supervisors to include measures for performance and compliance with EEO laws and its own anti-discrimination and retaliation policies and procedures. Managers and supervisors will be held accountable for failing to report and/or take appropriate action with respect to discrimination as required under its policies or Title VII. Finally, American Casing & Equipment shall report to EEOC complaints of race and national origin harassment, and retaliation made during the decree's term.
"This settlement sends a strong message to employers that race and national origin harassment and retaliation will not be tolerated in the workplace," said John Hendrickson, regional attorney for EEOC's Chicago District. "EEOC hopes that the changes implemented under the consent decree will serve as a model for creating a workplace free of discrimination in the oilfield service industry."
Tina Burnside, the trial attorney in EEOC's Minneapolis Area Office who litigated the case, added, "The consent decree provides important training to managers and supervisors on their responsibilities to report and take appropriate action when they witness or receive discrimination complaints. They cannot simply ignore harassment and fire employees who complain about being abused rather than doing something about it."
EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and litigation in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis. EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.