Case over hiring women on oil rigs settles; $1.5 million jury award upheldPosted On: Apr. 23, 2015 12:00 AM CST
An Oklahoma oil drilling company has reached a $400,000 settlement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a case in which it was charged with systemic sex discrimination, the agency said.
Separately, a federal appeals court has affirmed a $1.5 million jury award in a sex discrimination case brought by the EEOC against a supply chain logistics firm.
The EEOC said in its statement Wednesday that women who applied for jobs at Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Unit Drilling Co., a subsidiary of Unit Corp., were told that the company did not hire women because it only had “man camps,” that women were “too pretty” and that their presence would distract the men.
Under the consent order resolving the case, in addition to paying the $400,000 to five women whom the EEOC said were denied jobs, the company will change its policies and provide sex discrimination training, among other measures.
Phoenix-based EEOC regional attorney Mary Jo O’Neill said in a statement, “The women in this case were qualified and interested in working on oil rigs as floor hands in order to support themselves and their families. It is shocking that in these times — over 50 years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law — qualified women were not even considered for these high-paying jobs simply because of their gender. We expect that this settlement will make Unit Drilling change its practices and finally consider and hire qualified women on its rigs.”
A company spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
Earlier this week, the EEOC said a Texas oil drilling company has agreed to pay $14.5 million to settle agency race and national origin discrimination, harassment and retaliation charges.
New Breed Logistics jury award upheld
Separately, a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati unanimously upheld a May 2013 jury award of $1.5 million against High Point, North Carolina-based New Breed Logistics.
The EEOC had charged that New Breed supervisor James Calhoun had sexually harassed three women and retaliated against them by being responsible for their terminations after they objected to his sexual advances.
The agency also charged that Mr. Calhoun had similarly retaliated against a male employee who had verbally opposed his sexual harassment and supported the women’s complaints.
New Breed appealed the jury verdict. The appellate panel held that New Breed is not entitled to judgment as a matter of law, nor a new trial.
On the motion for a new trial on the sexual harassment verdict, the panel said the U.S. District Court in Memphis, Tennessee, “concluded that the jury could have reasonably determined that Calhoun’s sexual harassment culminated in the tangible employment action” taken against the three women, “making New Breed vicariously liable. We find no error in this conclusion.”