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Texas-based drilling company accused of workplace discrimination

No matter how large or small a company may be, it does not get a free pass to subject its employees to discrimination. Patterson-UTI Energy, Inc., a gas and oil drilling company based in Texas, is being accused of workplace discrimination by more than 1,000 affected workers. According to the complaint filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the company has been engaged in discriminatory behavior since 2006. The discrimination has been allegedly based upon the national origin and race of some of the workers.

Patterson allegedly did not train minority workers properly or give them opportunities for advancement. According to the EEOC, the minority workers were given the lowest jobs available and others who were in higher positions were demoted. Many of the minority workers claim they were subjected to harassment physically and verbally. In addition, the workers were purportedly the subjects of jokes and other derogatory terms based on their ethnic heritages and races.

For fear of retaliation, many of the workers did not speak out about the treatment. Patterson allegedly tolerated this type of behavior in the environment, and the workers who complained were fired or received disciplinary action. One employee was allegedly fired after complaining to management about the harassment.

The workplace discrimination case was settled for over $12 million, but that figure will rise to $14.5 million when the other cases' settlements are included. Patterson denies the allegations and claims that it has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination. It is illegal for Texas employers to discriminate against its workers based upon any protected status. In successfully navigated claims, the workers may be awarded financial relief based upon evidence of the discrimination.

Source: bizjournals.com, "Driller Patterson-UTI to pay $14.5 million to settle EEOC discrimination suit, other claims", Cathy Proctor, April 20, 2015

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