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Murex Petroleum Corp. to Pay $50,000 to Settle EEOC Racial Harassment Lawsuit

Oil  and Gas Company Subjected Employee to Racial Harassment, Federal Agency Charged

MINNEAPOLIS - A Texas-based oil and  gas company operating in Tioga, N.D., will pay $50,000 and furnish other relief  to settle a racial harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity  Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced. The EEOC's lawsuit charged  that Murex Petroleum Corp. violated federal law when it subjected an African-American  employee to a hostile work environment based on his race.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Derrick  Jenkins worked for Murex Petroleum Corp. from April to September 2014 as a  roustabout at its Tioga facility. During Jenkins' employment, he was subjected  to racial harassment by his white coworkers. The harassment included the white  coworkers calling Jenkins racial slurs such as "spook," "spade" and  "Buckwheat." The coworkers also made racially derogatory comments including  using the racially offensive term "n----r-rigged," the EEOC said. The  harassment was witnessed by Jenkins' supervisor, but no action was taken to  stop it. According to the EEOC's lawsuit, another African-American employee  complained to a high-level executive at the company, but, again, no action was  taken to stop or prevent the harassment.

Such alleged conduct violates Title  VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees from  discrimination based on race, including racial harassment. The EEOC filed suit in  U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Murex Petroleum Corp., Civil  Action No. 1:18-cv-00169-CSM) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation  settlement through its conciliation process.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles S.  Miller, Jr. signed the order entering the consent decree settling the suit on November  19, 2018. The decree provides for $50,000 in monetary relief to Jenkins. It  also requires Murex to revise its harassment policy to outline its procedure  for reporting complaints, and train management and employees on Title VII's  provisions prohibiting race discrimination and racial harassment. Finally, the  company must report complaints of racial harassment to the EEOC during the  decree's three-year term.

"Employers must recognize the  importance of acting promptly to address complaints of racial harassment," said  Julianne Bowman, district director for the EEOC's Chicago District. "Racial  slurs cannot be allowed to go unchecked in the workplace, and such behavior  must be stopped immediately when the employer has knowledge of such misconduct."

Gregory Gochanour, regional  attorney for the EEOC's Chicago District, added, "The EEOC will continue to  combat racial harassment and discrimination. We are pleased with the company's  quick action to resolve this lawsuit and make changes to address the problem of  race discrimination in the workplace."

The EEOC's Chicago District Office is  responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative  enforcement and litigation in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin,  Illinois and Iowa, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis. 

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.