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Dart Energy charged with racial harassment, retaliation against employees

Dart Energy charged with racial harassment, retaliation against employees

An energy company and its subsidiary have been charged by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission with race and national origin harassment and retaliation against a group of its minority employees.

The EEOC said Tuesday that Mason, Mich.-based Dart Energy Corp., and its subsidiary, Edgerton, Wyo.-based J&R Well Services L.L.C., which operates an oil and gas well service business in Wyoming, created a hostile work environment for a group of black, Hispanic and Native American employees, and then retaliated against those who complained.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed in federal district court in Cheyenne, Wyo., comments against Native American employees included “wagon burner” and “dumb Indian” while Hispanic employees were called “burrito boy” and “dirty Mexican,” among other epithets.

The lawsuit said the main perpetrator was a truck supervisor, although the area manager and others also made offensive comments.

The EEOC also charged that minority workers were disciplined more harshly than their white counterparts and that they were given unfavorable job assignments. Furthermore, several employees were disciplined, demoted, laid off or terminated within weeks of filing discrimination charges, said the EEOC.

EEOC Denver Field Office Director Nancy Sienko said in a statement: "Retaliation in particular is a priority for the EEOC under the agency's strategic enforcement plan. As a law enforcement agency, we cannot fulfill our mission unless employees are free to file discrimination charges and complain about harassment without fear of losing their jobs."

A company spokesman could not be reached for comment.