A federal judge in Casper, Wyo., has approved a $1.2 million settlement in a case brought by the EEOC against Dart Energy Corp. and two related companies.
The EEOC had charged well servicing companies Dart Energy Corp., Beckman Production Services, Inc., and J&R Well Service, LLC with violating federal law prohibiting race and national origin harassment and retaliation. The EEOC sought monetary and injunctive relief for more than a dozen men who claim that they had to endure racially derogatory comments and jokes on a regular and repeated basis.
According to the EEOC's suit, truck pusher Ken Nelson, as well as other J&R employees, regularly used terms like "wetback" and "beaner" to refer to Hispanic employees, "wagon burner" to refer to Native American employees, and the "N-word" to refer to black employees. Nelson was also accused, among other things, of referring to shovels as "Mexican backhoes" and stating that "Custer should have killed all the Indians."
The EEOC's accusations extended to J&R rigs as well. According to the EEOC's amended complaint, minority employees on the rigs regularly heard racist terms and demeaning remarks about green cards and deportation. Terms such as "n—-r-rigging" and telling employees to "n—-r a pipe down" were also common, according to the EEOC's complaint.
According to EEOC, several individuals complained to management, but their complaints were minimized or ignored entirely. The EEOC reported, for example, that Area Supervisor Jim Ferguson responded to employee complaints by telling complaining employees that they could quit, or by saying that he was sick of everyone coming to him and that everyone simply needed to do their jobs.
Further, the EEOC said, several men were demoted or fired after taking their complaints of discrimination to the Wyoming Department of Employment Labor Standards Division.
In addition to paying $1.2 million, the defendants in the case are also subject to a three-year consent decree which requires extensive training on employment discrimination laws, the establishment of a toll-free anonymous complaint line, and annual surveys of employees to ensure that discrimination is not occurring at J&R facilities. The defendants are also enjoined from engaging in any future employment practice which discriminates on the basis of race and/or national origin, and from retaliating against individuals who oppose such practices. J&R and Beckman will report to the EEOC twice a year for the decree's duration.