Texas-Based Oil and Gas Company Subjected Employee to Racial Abuse, Federal Agency Charged
MINNEAPOLIS - A Texas-based oil and gas company, operating in Tioga, N.D., violated civil rights law by subjecting an African-American employee to a hostile work environment based on his race, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed in North Dakota yesterday.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Derrick Jenkins worked for Murex Petroleum Corp. from April to September 2014 as a roustabout at its Tioga facility. During Jenkins's employment, he was subjected to racial harassment by his white coworkers. The abuse included the coworkers calling Jenkins racial slurs such as "spook," "spade" and "Buckwheat." They also made other racially derogatory comments, including the racially offensive term "n----r-rigged," the EEOC alleged. The harassment was witnessed by Jenkins's supervisor, but no action was taken to stop it.
According to the lawsuit, another African-American employee complained to a high-level executive at the company, but no action was taken to stop or prevent the harassment in this case either.
This alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees from discrimination based on race, including racial harassment. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Murex Petroleum Corp., Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-00169-CSM after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks compensatory and punitive damages as well as injunctive relief.
"The EEOC is committed to stopping racial harassment," said Julianne Bowman, district director of the EEOC's Chicago District. "We encourage people to come forward when they believe they are experiencing discrimination."
Gregory Gochanour, regional attorney for the EEOC's Chicago District, said, "The use of racial slurs has no place in the workplace. The EEOC will continue to vigorously litigate cases involving such unlawful misconduct."
The EEOC's legal team in its Minneapolis Area Office will conduct the litigation under the management of the agency's Chicago District Office. That office 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 advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.