Torqued-Up Energy Services to Pay $150,000 to Settle EEOC Race Harassment/Retaliation Suit

by U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
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EEOC Says Employee Fired for Reporting Racial Discrimination and Company Interfered With Subsequent Employment

VICTORIA, Texas - Torqued-Up Energy Services, Inc., a Tyler, Texas-based petroleum and gas industry equipment provider, will pay $150,000 and furnish other relief to settle a racial harassment and retaliation suit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

According to the EEOC's suit, an African-American employee of Torqued-Up assigned to a field crew in South Texas experienced racial harassment in the form of racial slurs and epithets from two employees who supervised him on the job.  According to the EEOC, the employee, who had 30 years of experience in the oil industry, reported the racial harassment to Torqued-Up's management, but instead of putting a stop to it, the company unlawfully retaliated against him.  The punishment included removing the man from his crew and assigning him to perform menial tasks such as washing trucks and sweeping, rather than the oil field work that he had been hired to perform, and reducing his work hours, thereby reducing his income.

The EEOC also accused Torqued-Up's management of retaliating against this employee by interfering in subsequent job opportunities after his employment with Torqued-Up ended.  Torqued-Up management discouraged at least one other employer from continuing to employ the man, the EEOC said.

Race discrimination and retaliation for opposing or reporting it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The EEOC filed suit filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Victoria Division (Civil Action No. 6:12-cv-00051) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

"Every employee has the right to a workplace free from harassment," said Trial Attorney David Rivela of the EEOC's San Antonio Field Office.  "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.  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.  We hope that the proposed training and emphasis on anti-discrimination policies will create a better and more tolerable working environment for all who work at Torqued-Up."

The four-year consent decree resolving this case, approved by U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa, requires Torqued-Up to implement an anti-discrimination policy that prohibits discrimination against employees on the basis of race and/or retaliation in violation of Title VII; post a notice regarding its commitment to protect employees from harassment; provide training to all of its employees; and pay $150,000 to the victim.

John Griffin, a plaintiff's attorney who worked with the EEOC in this case, said, "I am proud of the work we have done together with the EEOC in order to make our workplaces free from racial slurs and intimidation.  Our country and Texas are better off when workers are judged on their abilities and not the color of their skin.  This employee bravely fought against racial discrimination and we are gratified with settling this matter and making workplaces better places for Texas workers."

Torqued-Up Energy Services provides coiled tubing, pressure pumping, wrenching, testing and fracturing services to the petroleum and gas industry in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

In Fiscal Year 2012, the EEOC received 33,512 charge filings alleging race-based discrimination.  This accounted for 33.7 percent of all charges filed with the EEOC in Fiscal Year 2012.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment.  Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.

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