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Texas energy firm settles racial harassment, retaliation suit


A Texas energy firm has agreed to pay $150,000 to settle a suit alleging the company demoted a veteran employee to washing trucks and sweeping after he complained about racial harassment.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Tuesday that an unnamed African-American employee of Tyler, Texas-based petroleum and gas industry equipment provider Torqued-Up Energy Services Inc., experienced racial slurs and epithets from two supervisors while he served on a field crew in Texas.

When the worker complained to management about the harassment, the EEOC said the company retaliated by removing him from his crew and assigning him to perform menial tasks, such as washing trucks and sweeping, rather than the oilfield work he had been hired to perform. The company also reduced the worker's work hours.

The EEOC also charged that management retaliated against the employee by interfering in subsequent job opportunities after his employment with Torqued-Up ended, and that it discouraged at least one other employer from continuing to employ him.

The EEOC accused the company of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In addition to paying the $150,000, the four-year consent decree resolving the case requires Torqued-Up to implement an anti-discrimination policy and post a notice regarding its commitment to protect employees from harassment, the EEOC said.

“No one should be subjected to racial slurs and derogatory comments, and no company should tolerate such behavior in its workplace. In this situation, an employee with 30 years of experience in the oil industry was subjected to reprehensible and demeaning treatment because of his race,” trial attorney David Rivela of the EEOC's San Antonio field office, said in a statement. “We are pleased that the parties could reach an amicable resolution of this matter that will adequately compensate the harassment victim for what he experienced.”

A company spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

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