Garrison Contractors Fired Its Only Female Oilfield Roustabout After Reporting Sexual Harassment, Federal Agency Charges
DALLAS – An Iraan, Texas oilfield construction and services company violated federal discrimination law by firing its only female roustabout after she reported being sexually harassed on the job, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, Elma Garza was hired by Garrison Contractors, Inc. in January 2012 as a roustabout (a kind of oilfield worker). The EEOC said that during her employment, Garza was subjected to unwelcome sexual conduct by a co-worker and by an individual employed by another company. After Garza’s report of the unwanted sexual contact by the other company’s employee came to the attention of Garrison’s CEO, he fired her, the EEOC said.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees against retaliation for filing an EEOC charge or complaining about discriminatory practices, including harassment. The EEOC filed suit, Civil Action No. 4:14-cv-00073, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Pecos Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. In this case, the EEOC seeks compensatory and punitive damages and back pay, as well as injunctive relief, including an order barring Garrison from engaging in retaliatory treatment in the future.
“Employers are only compounding their own troubles and liability when they make a bad situation worse and punish a harassment victim,” said Devika Seth, senior trial attorney in the EEOC’s Dallas District Office. “The EEOC stands ready to vindicate Ms. Garza’s exercise of her civil rights and the rights of all employees who are punished when they report harassment on the job.”
EEOC Regional Attorney Robert Canino added, “In cases where women may work in a traditionally male environment, they need to have the confidence that they can talk to managers about harassing conduct without risking their income to do so. A woman should not have to wait until sexually offensive conduct reaches its most extreme forms before she calls the company’s attention to it. Retaliation, if uncontested, strips workers of the protections afforded by our laws.”
Eliminating policies and practices that discourage or prohibit individuals from exercising their rights under employment discrimination statutes, or that impede the EEOC’s investigative or enforcement efforts, is of one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov. The EEOC’s Dallas District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in northern Texas and parts of New Mexico.