Human Resources News & Insights

EEOC rakes in the dough for sex and race bias, retaliation violations

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s been busy. Here’s a look at just three of the numerous cases it has won — or settled — in the past few days.  

$1.5M jury verdict for sex harassment and retaliation

A federal appeals court in Memphis upheld a jury verdict of over $1.5 million in the EEOC’s lawsuit against a High Point, N.C.-based logistics services provider for sexual harassment and retaliation.

According to the EEOC’s suit, New Breed Logistics unlawfully discriminated against three female workers in its Memphis warehouse who were sexually harassed by a New Breed supervisor, and retaliated against them after they objected to his sexual advances. The EEOC also charged that a New Breed supervisor retaliated against a male employee who verbally opposed the supervisor’s sexual harassment and supported the women’s complaints.

Two years ago, a federal district court jury found in favor of the EEOC, and awarded the discrimination victims $1,513,094. The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the jury finding.

New Breed Logistics, a logistics services provider that helps companies design and operate supply chains, warehousing and distribution, operates five Memphis warehouses. The company also has warehouses in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Texas, Los Angeles and Kearny, N.J.

$14.5M to settle race/national origin bias cases

Patterson-UTI Drilling Company LLC, a Snyder, Texas-based multistate oil drilling company, will pay $14.5 million and furnish other relief to settle a lawsuit filed by the EEOC and to resolve several cases through separate conciliation agreements, the agency announced.

The EEOC charged the company with race and national origin discrimination, harassment and retaliation at its facilities throughout the country.

The EEOC’s lawsuit charged that since at least 2006, Patterson-UTI engaged in a nationwide pattern or practice of discrimination based on race and national origin on its drilling rigs, including assigning minorities to the lowest level jobs, failing to train and promote minorities, and disciplining and demoting minority employees disproportionately.

The EEOC also claimed that Patterson-UTI tolerated a hostile work environment on its rigs.  Among other things, the EEOC claimed that these employees endured frequent and pervasive barrages of racial and ethnic slurs, jokes, and comments, as well as verbal and physical harassment and intimidation of minority employees.

The EEOC added that employees who opposed or complained about discriminatory practices suffered retaliation, including discriminatory discipline and discharge.

The settlement requires Patterson-UTI to put $12,260,000 into a settlement fund for distribution to the class of discrimination victims, that’s not the full extent of the tab. Related charges filed with the EEOC resulted in separate out-of-court conciliation agreements with the Commission.  When combining the money from the decree and the conciliation settlement agreements, the monetary relief for the victims totals $14.5 million.

Systemic sex bias suit costs $400k

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 EEOC.

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.

Under a federal court decree, Unit Drilling will pay $400,000 to five women whom, the EEOC alleged, 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.

Unit Drilling Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Unit Corporation and 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.

A full rundown of all of EEOC’s recent settlements can be found on the agency’s web page.

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