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Parker Drilling Sued by EEOC for Disability Discrimination

Company Rejected Worker Blind in One Eye, Federal Agency Charges

An Alaska-based oil drilling company refused to hire a worker who is blind in one eye in violation of federal law, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a recently filed lawsuit.

According to the EEOC's suit, after first making a job offer to him, Parker Drilling Company failed to hire a highly-experienced oil rig worker who had lost sight in his left eye as a child. The worker had successfully held various positions on the oil rig floor for the last 35 years, and in fact began his career with Parker Drilling from 1978-1982.

"My work record speaks for itself," said the worker. "I've built a solid reputation over three decades working around the world for various companies, including Parker Drilling. I work hard to support my family, so it was painful to lose this job opportunity just because of my left eye, a proven non-issue for my work performance."

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects workers from discrimination due to an actual or perceived disability. The EEOC filed the suit (3:13-CV-00181-SLG) in U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks monetary damages on behalf of the worker, training on anti-discrimination laws, posting of notices at the worksite, and other injunctive relief.

EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo said, "This applicant's proven track record and hard work got him a foot in the door. However, Parker Drilling made assumptions about his limitations and slammed that door shut in his face. The EEOC is committed to ensuring that employees and applicants will be fairly assessed on their ability to do a job, and not wrongfully excluded due to myths or biases about disabilities."

San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado added, "Employers should evaluate candidates based on their specific qualifications and circumstances instead of jumping to ill-informed conclusions about an actual or perceived condition. It is well worth employers' time to listen and communicate with applicants and employees regarding disability issues."

According to its website, www.parkerdrilling.com, Parker Drilling provides worldwide drilling services, rental tools and project management, including rig design, construction and operations management for oil drilling operations.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.