Horizontal Well Drillers Sued by EEOC For Age And Disability Discrimination In Hiring
Oklahoma Oil Drilling Company Also Made Unlawful Inquiries Into Applicants' Past Workers' Compensation Claims and Committed Other Violations, Federal Agency Charges
Horizontal Well Drillers (HWD), an oil and gas drilling company with its corporate offices in Purcell, Okla., violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it declined to hire applicants based on their age or reported history of filing workers' compensation claims, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged in a recently filed lawsuit.
According to EEOC's suit, HWD used information from employment applications to discriminate in hiring based on applicants' age and history of filing workers' compensation claims. The suit also seeks relief for Wilbert Glover, an applicant whom HWD forced to undergo an allegedly unlawful post-job-offer medical exam. The agency claims that HWD also violated federal law when it withdrew Glover's job offer based on information it learned from the exam.
In addition to these claims, EEOC asserts that HWD unlawfully failed to retain records, maintain confidentiality of employee and applicant medical records, and file required reports with the agency. HWD also violated the ADA by conducting background searches for information about applicants' prior workers' compensation claims, the EEOC charged.
EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma (EEOC v. Horizontal Well Drillers LLC, Case No. 5:17-cv-00879-R) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks back pay and liquidated, compensatory, and punitive damages for Mr. Glover and those persons who were not hired because of HWD's unlawful employment practices, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent and address future discrimination based on age or disability and to otherwise bring the company into compliance with federal law.
"Excluding qualified workers because of their age or because they were previously injured on the job is not only illegal, it is bad business," Andrea G. Baran, regional attorney for EEOC's St. Louis District, said. "It not only robs job-seekers of an opportunity to work to support themselves and their families, it also causes businesses to lose out on valuable talent and experience."
James R. Neely, Jr., director of EEOC's St. Louis District Office, added, "Using stereotypes about age and disabilities to screen out applicants for high paying oil field jobs cannot be tolerated. Hiring qualified people with experience and ability makes sense. Refusing to hire such people because of their age or previous work-related injuries does not."
According to its website, HWD currently operates drilling rigs at locations in Oklahoma, Kansas, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Mexico.
The EEOC's St. Louis District Office oversees Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and a portion of southern Illinois.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.