Oilfield Company Harassed Filipino Based on Race and National Origin, Then Fired Him for Complaining, Federal Agency Charged
MINNEAPOLIS - A North Dakota oilfield service company operating in Williston, N.D., violated civil rights law by subjecting an employee to a hostile work environment based on his race and national origin and firing him for complaining about it, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed in today.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Matthew Clark worked for American Casing & Equipment, Inc., in Williston from November 2012 to January 2014 as a rathole hand/laborer. (A rathole hand/laborer is a person who drills holes in the ground, installs steel pipes and encases the pipes in cement in preparation for drilling for oil.) Shortly after he began working, Clark, who is Filipino, was harassed by a white manager because of his race and national origin. The harassment included the manager calling Clark a "non-white m-----f----r," "non-white guy," "s..c," "n----r," "monkey" and "ape." On one occasion, the manager urinated on Clark's legs as he worked under a truck in the shop, the EEOC alleged. The harassment was witnessed by Clark's supervisor, but no action was taken to stop it. According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Clark complained to the defendant's safety manager about the harassment, and he was terminated in retaliation for his opposition to the discrimination.
All this alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees from discrimination based on race and national origin, and prohibits discrimination against employees who oppose discrimination. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. American Casing & Equipment, Inc.; Civil Action No. 4:15-cv-00066-CSM) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay and compensatory damages and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.
"No one should be subjected to work in an environment where he is called racial slurs and urinated on, and then fired because he exercises his right to complain about this kind of abuse," said John Hendrickson, Regional Attorney for the EEOC's Chicago District, said. "The EEOC will vigorously fight to uphold the right to a workplace free of this sort of misconduct."
This lawsuit against American Casing & Equipment is the second filed by the EEOC against an oilfield service company in North Dakota for racial harassment and retaliation. Last month, the EEOC filed suit against Cudd Energy Services for racial harassment and retaliation against an Asian employee. (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Cudd Energy Services; Civil Action No. 4:15-cv-00037 (DLH-CSM))
The EEOC's legal team in its Minneapolis Area Office will conduct the litigation under the management of the agency's Chicago District Office. The Chicago District is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and litigation in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.