Company Refused to Hire Any Women, Federal Agency Charged
PHOENIX - Unit Drilling Company, a nationwide oil drilling company, will pay $400,000 and furnish other relief to settle a systemic sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC had alleged that Unit Drilling refused to hire any women nationwide on its oil rigs.
According to the EEOC's suit, when women applied for jobs at Unit Drilling, they were told that the company did not hire women. Rejected female applicants testified that they were told by Unit employees 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," the EEOC said.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. After unsuccessfully trying to settle the case through its pre-trial conciliation process, the EEOC sued Unit Drilling on Sept. 28, 2012 in U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, Central Division, and the case was transferred to U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma at the request of Unit Drilling (EEOC v. Unit Drilling Company,13-cv-00147-TCK-PJC).
On the eve of trial, Unit Drilling and the EEOC signed a consent decree resolving the case, and Tulsa Federal Court Judge Terence C. Kern signed and entered the decree today. Under the decree, Unit Drilling will pay $400,000 to five women whom, the EEOC alleges, Unit Drilling refused to hire because they are women. In addition, Unit Drilling will change its policies, provide training against sex discrimination, post anti-discrimination notices, and provide detailed hiring information to the EEOC, which will monitor Unit Drilling's compliance with the decree.
"Hiring discrimination is a very high priority issue for the EEOC," said the district director of the EEOC's Phoenix District Office, Rayford Irvin. "Our investigation showed that women have not been able to get in the door to be considered or hired at Unit Drilling. This complete refusal to consider or hire any women is a blatant violation of federal law. Employers need to consider all applicants for all jobs."
EEOC Regional Attorney Mary O'Neill said, "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."
According to company information, Unit Drilling Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Unit Corporation, a publicly traded company, owns drilling rigs all over the country. The company operates approximately 90 onshore drilling rigs in the Anadarko and Arkoma Basins, the Rocky Mountains, and the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast.
The EEOC's Phoenix District has jurisdiction over Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and most of New Mexico.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.