Archive for the 'Race-Based Harassment and Retaliation' Category

Downhole Technology to Pay $120,000 To Settle EEOC Suit for Race-Based Harassment and Retaliation

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Fracking Company Fired Black Employee After He Complained That Coworkers Used a White Hood to Harass Him, Federal Agency Charged

HOUSTON -A Houston manufacturer of equipment used in hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) has agreed to pay a former employee $120,000 and provide other relief to settle a retaliatory discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged Downhole Technology, LLC with violating federal law when it retaliated against employee Kenneth Echols after he complained that he had been racially harassed. Echols, who is African-American, reported that his coworkers had used a white hood – evocative of the type used by the Ku Klux Klan – to intimidate, ridicule, and insult him. The EEOC alleged that in response to Echols’s complaint, the company told him that the incident was meant as a joke. The company then fired Echols for refusing to sign a declaration stating that it had adequately responded to his complaint regarding the incident. Before reporting the incident, Echols’s record with the company was unblemished, the EEOC said.

This conduct, the EEOC said, violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits an employer from discriminating against – or allowing coworkers to harass – an employee because of the employee’s race. That act also prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee for reporting discrimination, including harassment.

The EEOC filed its lawsuit (Civil Action No. 4:17-CV-00574) in the Houston Division of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, the EEOC and the company resolved the claim, which led to the two-year consent decree announced today.

Under that decree, Downhole Technology will pay Echols $120,000 in monetary relief and will provide a variety of other, non-monetary relief. For instance, the decree requires that Downhole train its employees, including its supervisors, on the requirements imposed by Title VII, and also educate them about the history of hate groups, their symbols and the harm they cause to others. Downhole will also revamp its anti-discrimination policy and establish a toll-free telephone number through which employees will be able to report discrimination and harassment.

“This settlement is both fair and just,” said Rudy Sustaita, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Houston District Office. “I’m confident that Downhole is now as committed as we are in ensuring that incidents of race-based harassment are treated with the seriousness and gravity the law demands.”

EEOC Sues Fracking Company for Race-Based Harassment and Retaliation

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Downhole Technology Fired a Black Employee for Complaining About Racial Intimidation With a KKK Hood, Federal Agency Charges

HOUSTON – A manufacturer of equipment used in hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) violated federal law when it retaliated against an employee for reporting that he had been harassed by his white coworkers because of his race, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

The EEOC’s suit alleges that Downhole Technology failed to adequately respond after Kenneth Echols, who is black, reported that his coworkers had used a white hood – evocative of the type used by the Ku Klux Klan – to intimidate, ridicule and insult him. The suit also contends that, rather than addressing his concerns, Downhole Technology instead reprimanded and then fired Echols for reporting the conduct to them.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee because of race or allowing coworkers to harass him. It also prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee for reporting discrimination, including harassment.

The EEOC filed its suit (Civil Action No. 4:17-cv-00574) in the Houston Division of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas after it unsuccessfully attempted to reach a settlement agreement with Downhole Technology through its pre-suit conciliation process.

The EEOC is asking the court to permanently enjoin Downhole Technology from engaging in future discrimination and retaliation. It is also asking the court to order Downhole Technology to pay Echols both punitive and compensatory damages, in addition to lost wages and benefits.

“Employers cannot and must not discriminate on the basis of an employee’s race,” said Rayford Irvin, director for the EEOC’s Houston District Office, which has jurisdiction over parts of Texas and all of Louisiana. “Doing so denies employment equality and violates federal law.”

Rudy Sustaita, regional attorney for the Houston District Office, cautioned, “Employers who disregard their employees’ rights to be free from discrimination will be held accountable by the EEOC.”