Meeting of January 14, 2015 - Workplace Harassment
I want to thank the Commission for inviting me here today. My name is Laudente Montoya, and I was one of the people who filed a charge of discrimination against J&R Well Services and Dart Energy for harassment I suffered while working there.
I started working at J&R as a mechanic in November 2007. My first day on the job the Truck Pusher, who was second in command in Edgerton, introduced me as "uncle beaner" because my girlfriend's nephew, Mike Brasiel, worked there before me and was referred to as beaner. Mike and I are both Hispanic. I was shocked that he would say that to me. Having lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico for 40 years and Denver, Colorado for 10 years before coming to Wyoming, I never experienced anything like that. For this guy it was like nothing though. I was "uncle beaner." Mike was just "beaner or half a beaner" because he is only half-Hispanic. We were both "stupid Mexicans" or "dumb Mexicans" or "worthless Mexicans". Sometimes he would switch up and call us "spics" too. He told me at least once that he didn't like "spics" and that Mexicans were the reason we have swine flu. If Mike and I spoke Spanish when he was around, he'd say "we're all Americans here. Speak English." He'd also just say stupid stuff like "hey you got any pesos."
I told the Truck Pusher I didn't like his language lots of times, I would also tell him that a person in a management position in a large corporation should not talk to their employees like that. The first time he said something like "welcome to the oil fields. That's how they talk here." Later, when I told him I didn't like the term "spic," he turned around a couple of days later and mocked me by saying "he doesn't like being called a stupid spic." Usually he would just kind of laugh and move along.
It wasn't just the Hispanic guys either whom he targeted. Everyone who wasn't White was fair game. If he didn't know your race, he'd come out and ask you. I saw him do that with at least one guy. I heard him call Sean Mapp a "nigger." I heard him call Don Longtine a "lazy Indian" and a "wagon burner." A lot of times it was behind Don's back, but we all talked. Don was my supervisor in the shop so he and Mike and I would talk about what a racist jerk the Truck Pusher was all the time.
When we complained to Area Manager, who was the boss in Edgerton, he didn't do anything. The two were buddies and so the Area Manager would just sweep it under the rug.
Working that job was one of the worst times in my life. It became so that I could hardly bring myself to go to work in the morning because I hated working with him so much. People were calling me moody. I even saw my doctor about it.
So a bunch of the other guys and I who were fed up with the racism filed charges of discrimination with the help of a lawyer Don Longtine knew. A week or two later, the Area Manager calls me into the office and says work is slow and they are going to have to lay me off. I know for a fact though that there was plenty to do around the shop. The whole thing was just an excuse.
So then I had to go on unemployment for several months until I was able to find another job, which wasn't exactly easy. In the meantime Mike got hurt at work and they contested his workers compensation claim. That was just how they were. The Truck Pusher was the worst though. He acted like they could get away with anything.
A couple of months ago, when this case was in mediation, we all agreed to end it together. Now that it's all over, I am proud that we stood up for ourselves, and I'm glad EEOC was able to help get things like the training and the survey as part of the settlement. And I want to thank the Commission for letting me come out here to Washington to tell my story. It means a lot to me. All I ever wanted was to change how people were being treated, and hopefully my coming here will help do that.