Liberty Energy Faces $265,000 Penalty in Race/Color, National Origin Discrimination Case

Race, color, ethnic harassment and discrimination in the oil industry lawyers - Helmer Friedman LLP.

Federal Agency Announces Resolution to Charges of Racial and Ethnic Harassment in the Workplace

Liberty Energy, Inc., operating as Liberty Oilfield Services, LLC, has been ordered to pay $265,000 due to allegations of racial and ethnic discrimination. The lawsuit was led by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of three company mechanics, setting a powerful example of the financial consequences of not adequately addressing harassment complaints.

Regional Attorney Robert Canino said, “Unfortunately, we have often seen cases in which one account of discriminatory treatment against a person based on a particular race or ethnicity leads to evidence that other racial or ethnic minorities have also been caught up in a broader unhealthy environment of demeaning and unlawful conduct. This employer’s commitment to address the bigger-picture issues can be expected to have a broader positive impact beyond the individual who filed the charge.”

The case details suggest a hostile work environment at Liberty Energy’s Odessa, Texas location, involving a Black field mechanic and two Hispanic co-workers who were consistently targeted with racial and ethnic slurs. The employees alleged that their multiple reports of discrimination to supervisors and human resources were ignored, leading to a damaging atmosphere that ultimately forced the Black mechanic to resign.

This case underscores the legal and financial implications businesses face when they fail to meet their obligations under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which strictly prohibits workplace discrimination based on race or national origin. In order to avoid substantial legal fees and monetary damages, it is crucial that complaints regarding discriminatory treatment are promptly and effectively addressed.
In addition to the financial penalty, Liberty Energy must now implement comprehensive measures and policies to prevent future discrimination, including:

  • Training programs on federal laws regarding employment discrimination.
  • A policy that empowers human resources and management personnel to promptly respond to discrimination reports.
  • A dedicated hotline for discrimination and harassment reporting.

EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Joel Clark expressed optimism about the settlement, expressing hope that the stipulated measures will foster a discrimination-free work environment within the company. Regional Attorney Robert Canino echoed the sentiment, highlighting that the employer’s commitment can contribute to a broader positive impact on workplace culture and practices.

Race Discrimination – Unequal Work Assignments Based On Race

Determining work assignments based on race is race discrimination and it is illegal. Contact the Race Discrimination Lawyers at Helmer Friedman LLP.

Delivery company DHL is to pay $8.7 million in compensation and will be monitored by a court-appointed overseer to settle a class race discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The federal agency filed a suit claiming that DHL had segregated its Black and white employees, discriminated against Black employees based on race in the terms and conditions of their employment, and given them unequal and heavier work assignments. Black employees were also assigned to routes in neighbourhoods with higher crime rates, which put them at risk of witnessing or becoming victims of crime.

However, segregating employees and giving them unequal work assignments based on their race is just as unlawful. Such practices should not occur in any workplace. We are confident that the measures put in place by the consent decree will ensure that DHL’s employees are treated equally going forward.

The EEOC charged that DHL’s actions violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits racial segregation and discrimination in employment. Under the consent decree, DHL will compensate 83 Black employees who were subjected to the alleged discriminatory conduct and chose to participate in the lawsuit, with $8.7 million in total. The decree also requires DHL to train its workforce on federal laws prohibiting race discrimination and provide periodic reports to the court-appointed overseer and the EEOC on work assignments and complaints of race discrimination. DHL will be monitored for four years by former EEOC Commissioner Leslie Silverman to ensure compliance with the decree.

According to Gregory Gochanour, Regional Attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago District Office, DHL’s segregating employees and giving them unequal work assignments based on their race is just as unlawful as paying them less or denying promotions. The measures put in place by the consent decree will ensure that DHL’s employees are treated equally going forward. Karla Gilbride, General Counsel of the EEOC, stated that if an employer orders Black workers to continue working in areas perceived as dangerous while accommodating the requests of white workers, it sends a message that the lives and safety concerns of Black workers are valued less than those of their white colleagues, which is plainly unlawful.

EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows emphasised that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed racially segregated workplaces sixty years ago, and the EEOC remains committed to enforcing it vigorously so that race-based job segregation becomes a thing of the past. It’s time for employers to realise that discriminating based on race has no place in any workplace.

New Title IX Rules Combat Transgender Discrimination and Sexual Harassment in Schools

LGBTQIA+ people have the right to a workplace free from gender discrimination.

The Biden administration introduces new Title IX rules to combat transgender discrimination and revamp sexual harassment policies in schools, sparking debate and aiming for inclusivity.

The Biden administration has unveiled new rules aimed at combatting discrimination against transgender students and revamping the approach schools take toward allegations of sexual harassment and assault. These regulations expand the scope of Title IX, a federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in schools receiving federal funding, to encompass protections for gender identity and sexual orientation. Additionally, the rules touch upon the participation of transgender athletes in sports and require provisions for pregnant students or those who are recovering from childbirth, including services related to abortion and lactation.

This initiative has ignited debate, especially in conservative states with stringent transgender policies, and seeks to foster a more inclusive environment while altering the process for addressing sexual assault claims, thereby diverging from certain policies of the Trump era. The new rules take effect August 1st, in time for the next academic year; these adjustments have attracted widespread attention and controversy.

In contrast, the Trump administration’s 2020 regulations mandated colleges to conduct live hearings with cross-examination in sexual assault cases, applying a “clear and convincing evidence” standard for guilt. The Biden administration’s policies provide universities greater leeway in case management, permitting alternatives to live hearings and adopting a “preponderance of the evidence” standard for determining guilt. Moreover, while broadening the definition of sexual harassment, the Biden rules preserve some mechanisms introduced during the Trump administration, such as informal complaint resolution options. Critics voice concerns over potential injustices towards accused students under these new rules, while advocates argue they will enhance campus safety for survivors of sexual assault.

The regulations also delve into the contentious issue of transgender students’ rights, particularly in sports, sidestepping definitive guidance on transgender athletes’ sports participation to avoid influencing the presidential campaign. Although there is widespread resistance to allowing transgender athletes on female sports teams, the proposed rules would disallow blanket bans but sanction certain restrictions. The ongoing evolution of policies regarding harassment complaints underscores the administration’s commitment to refining and stabilizing Title IX directives.

Stand Against Racial Harassment – It’s Illegal and Unacceptable

Discrimination, harassment based on race of family members is illegal. Contact the race harassment, discrimination lawyers in Los Angeles, Helmer Friedman LLP for a Free consultation.

In the United States, an individual’s civil rights are protected under the 1964 Civil Rights Act. One of the many provisions of this act is the legal prohibition of harassment and discrimination based on the race of your family members. No one, under any circumstances, has the right to deny you opportunities, benefits or fair treatment due to the racial background of your family members.

Racial harassment can manifest in a plethora of ways. Some common examples include derogatory comments about someone’s racial or ethnic origin, racial slurs or insults, racial jokes or stereotypes, or displaying racially offensive symbols. These actions are not just hurtful; they’re illegal and punishable by law.

One notable instance of racial harassment in the corporate world involves Cavco Industries, Palm Harbor Homes, and Palm Harbor Villages. The U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) settled a racial discrimination lawsuit with the company for $135,000. The lawsuit alleged that an employee was subjected to a racially hostile work environment, which included racially offensive remarks and comments about the race of members of his family. The settlement reiterates that businesses are legally obligated to maintain an environment free of racial discrimination and reinforces that legal action will be pursued in cases of violations.

A racially hostile work environment is determined through the lens of both objective and subjective criteria. Objectively, the conduct must be severe or pervasive enough that a reasonable person would find the workplace intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Subjectively, the victim must perceive the environment to be hostile or abusive as well. It’s crucial to underline that isolated incidents, unless extremely severe, do not typically constitute a hostile work environment under the law. Instead, it’s the pattern of behavior over time that comes under scrutiny. Factors considered in these determinations include the frequency of the discriminatory conduct, its severity, whether it is physically threatening or humiliating (or a mere offensive utterance), and whether it unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance. The threshold for what constitutes this environment is necessarily high because the law seeks to balance freedom of speech and conduct in the workplace with protections against discrimination.

Remember, respect and equality are at the foundation of our society and any form of racial discrimination or harassment undermines these principles. Stay informed, stay respectful, and remember that racism, in any form, is not just morally wrong; it’s illegal.
Know your rights. Report any instances of racial harassment or discrimination in your workplace to the appropriate authorities. We must all stand together to ensure a fair and equitable society for all, irrespective of race or color.

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Final Rule

Pregnancy discrimination accommodations.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released a final rule to implement the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). The PWFA requires most employers with 15 or more employees to provide “reasonable accommodations” for pregnant workers’ known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. An exception is if the accommodation causes undue hardship to the employer. The final rule will be published in the Federal Register on Apr. 19 and will take effect 60 days after publication.

This rule builds upon existing protections against pregnancy discrimination and access to reasonable accommodations. The EEOC started accepting discrimination charges on June 27, 2023, when the PWFA became effective.

The final rule provides clarity to employers and workers about who is covered, the types of limitations and medical conditions covered, how individuals can request reasonable accommodations and numerous concrete examples. It reflects the EEOC’s response to approximately 100,000 public comments received on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

The PWFA empowers pregnant workers by providing them with clear access to reasonable accommodations, ensuring they can continue their jobs safely and effectively, free from discrimination and retaliation. This final rule, a testament to their rights, offers crucial information and guidance to help employers fulfill their responsibilities and to help job seekers and employees understand their rights. It fosters a culture of open communication, encouraging employers and employees to engage early and often, enabling them to identify and resolve issues in a timely manner.

The final regulation provides numerous examples of reasonable accommodations, such as

  • additional breaks to drink water, eat, or use the restroom;
  • a stool to sit on while working;
  • time off for health care appointments;
  • temporary reassignment;
  • temporary suspension of certain job duties;
  • telework;
  • time off to recover from childbirth or a miscarriage, among others.

It also provides guidance regarding limitations and medical conditions for which employees or applicants may seek reasonable accommodation. This includes miscarriage or stillbirth, migraines, lactation, and pregnancy-related conditions that are episodic, such as morning sickness.

The final regulation underscores the importance of early and frequent communication between employers and workers. It emphasizes the shared responsibility in raising and resolving requests for reasonable accommodation in a timely manner. It also clarifies that an employer is not required to seek supporting documentation when an employee asks for reasonable accommodation and should only do so when it is reasonable under the circumstances, fostering a sense of mutual trust and respect.

The final regulation explains when an accommodation would impose an undue hardship on an employer and its business. It also provides information on how employers may assert defenses or exemptions, including those based on religion, as early as possible in charge processing.

False Claims Act Whistleblowers – Counterclaims

Whistleblower protection lawyers in Beverly Hills - Helmer Friedman LLP.

See U.S. ex rel. Cooley v. ERMI, LLC, et al., C.A. No. 1:20-CV-4181-TWT, 2024 WL 815514, at *1 (N.D. Ga. Feb. 27, 2024)

A recent court ruling has allowed a medical equipment supplier to maintain counterclaims against a former employee who blew the whistle on the company for fraudulent activity. The employee claimed that the supplier provided medical equipment without a valid license. She also alleged that her employer had retaliated against her by stopping her from bringing the company into compliance and by subsequently forcing her out when she threatened to bring an False Claims Act (FCA) suit. The supplier denied these claims and filed counterclaims of its own. These counterclaims alleged that the employee breached her contract and fiduciary duties, and that she misled the company into thinking that a license renewal was forthcoming.

In February 2024, the Court made a decision to uphold the defendant’s counterclaims. The Court clarified that counterclaims for causes of action that are different from the FCA could proceed, even if they came from the same underlying facts as the FCA action. In this case, the Relator’s FCA claim and Defendant’s counterclaims both involved operating without a valid license.

The Court allowed Defendant’s breach of contract counterclaim for the time being. It reasoned that it was too early in the litigation to determine whether Relator fell within the confidentiality agreement’s safe harbor. This safe harbor allows the disclosure of confidential information to a regulator concerning conduct that an employee reasonably believes is illegal or in material noncompliance with applicable laws. If it turns out that Relator retained confidential documents only to support her FCA claim, then this counterclaim could be dismissed on public policy grounds.

The Court agreed with Defendant that Relator’s role in allowing Defendant’s Florida license to expire and misleading it into thinking a renewal was forthcoming was unrelated to the underlying FCA claims. The competitor’s lawsuit against Defendant was brought under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, not the FCA. Therefore, that claim constituted independent damages that did not offset FCA liability.

The Court upheld Defendant’s breach of fiduciary duty claims, as they were not violative of public policy. The Court determined that there was a clear distinction between the facts supporting liability for each claim, even though both the Relator’s FCA claim and Defendant’s counterclaims involved operating without a valid license. The Court held that overlap is what makes Defendant’s counterclaims compulsory.

The court allowed the supplier’s breach of contract counterclaim to proceed for the time being, stating that it was too early in the litigation to determine whether the employee’s actions fell within the confidentiality agreement’s safe harbor provision. If it is later determined that the employee retained confidential documents only to support her fraudulent activity claim, then the counterclaim could be dismissed on public policy grounds.

This ruling provides a roadmap for companies facing fraudulent activity claims to pursue remedies against whistleblowers, even if these counterclaims stem from the same underlying facts as the fraudulent activity claim. Companies should evaluate potential injuries imposed by the whistleblower’s actions during and after their tenure, and determine whether counterclaims may be appropriate.

Reproductive Rights Go Up in Smoke

Women's rights to privacy, reproductive health care, abortion care lost.

Protecting Our Teenagers From Job-Related Sexual Harassment

Teenagers experience sexual harassment on the job. Prepare and protect your kids.

What could be more exciting and anxiety-inducing than your teenager’s first summer job?

Starting a job is a significant moment that marks the transition into adulthood. It brings new responsibilities and opportunities. Research has shown that having these experiences, whether working in a restaurant, mowing lawns, or working in a family business, can have many benefits. Teenagers can gain independence, valuable job and life skills, and experiences that can help them transition into adulthood.

However, what should be a positive step can take a harrowing turn when the workplace becomes grounds for abuse. Today, the alarming reality is that sexual harassment is not just a risk confined to corporate settings but is increasingly common in the first job scenarios that many teenagers find themselves in.

Your child’s excitement for that first day of work is often matched with the anxiety of a million parental what-ifs. But in the shadows of those concerns looms a particularly distressing question about their safety from the risk of harassment. Sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal, yet it continues to stain the environment our teenagers enter with trepidation and expectations.

The first shield against workplace abuse is parental guidance. Preparing your kids for their first job means more than just providing your teen with a packed lunch and a pat on the back. It means giving them the tools to recognize and confront inappropriate behavior. Open and honest conversations about what constitutes harassment and how to respond can significantly empower them. Make sure they understand that anything that feels uncomfortable should be addressed. Building a trusting relationship with your teenager is crucial, and letting them know they can come to you with any concerns or questions.

We want to send a clear and opposing message: every worker has a right to a workplace free from sexual harassment, and the EEOC will hold employers accountable. Nancy Sienko, director for the EEOC’s San Francisco District. In the realm of a teenager’s first job, power dynamics are often skewed, anchored in age, experience, and position. A young manager, though closer in age, holds a significant degree of authority and influence over a teenager stepping into the workforce. This relationship, ideally meant to mentor and guide, can sometimes devolve into a complex web of control and vulnerability. The subtle or overt exertion of power by a young manager can be intoxicating, sometimes leading to abuses of authority. The teenager, eager to impress and fearful of repercussions, may find themselves in a precarious position—torn between standing up for themselves and threatening to lose their job or face workplace ostracism. Understanding and acknowledging these dynamics is crucial for teenagers and their guardians, setting the stage for preventive measures and support systems to safeguard against potential abuses.

Recognizing Warning Signs

Parents need to educate themselves on the issue of workplace harassment and assist their teenagers in recognizing inappropriate behavior. We equip them with valuable tools by teaching them about boundaries, consent, and respect. The EEOC created a website dedicated Youth@Work to helping educate young people about discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

Educators’ Role in Empowerment

Teachers can play a significant role in preparing teenagers for any professional scenario. Teachers preparing students for their first job include warnings about the potential abuse teens might face and foster a culture of understanding and dialogue in their educational environment — giving them the power of anticipation and the power of voice.

Business Owner Obligation

Ultimately, employers shoulder direct responsibility. A thorough understanding of the laws governing harassment is more than a legal requirement; it’s the means to cultivate a safe working environment. Proper training and transparent policies, particularly for management, are essential in protecting teen employees. For business owners, staying vigilant about the interpersonal dynamics within their establishment is critical to maintaining a safe and respectful work environment for all, particularly for teen employees. Warning signs that may indicate a potential problem between a manager and a teen employee include noticeable changes in the employee’s behavior, such as increased anxiety, withdrawal from team interactions, or a sudden dip in job performance. Other red flags could be a manager spending excessive time alone with a teen employee, showing favoritism, or engaging in communication outside of work hours without a professional pretext. Employers need to create a culture where these signs are observed and acted upon with discretion and urgency, ensuring that the workplace remains safe for young workers to thrive and grow professionally.

Shocking Cases of Abuse

Recent legal battles have brought to light egregious situations where teenagers have been subjected to abhorrent behavior despite legal protections. These cases not only highlight the vulnerability of young workers but also the stark reality that job-related abuse isn’t solely a point of concern for corporate environments. The responsibility of ensuring a safe and respectful work environment falls on everyone, from parents and educators to business owners and employers. By working together and taking preventive measures, we can protect our teenagers from job-related abuse and create a better, safer future for all.

The Chipotle Case Exposes

The Chipotle case (EEOC v. Chipotle Services, LLC and Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., Case No. 2:22-cv-00279) unearthed a sordid tale of degradation where a male colleague at a Florida outlet not only engaged in sexually explicit comments about a female teenage co-worker but escalated to a physical act. The implications point to corporate culture failures that allowed such an incident to occur and persist.

This case involves workers in their teens and early 20s. These are their first impressions they will they form about the workplace, and it is devastating when an employer permits sexual harassment to continue despite repeated complaints.

Shane’s Rib Shack Retaliation

Similarly, Shane’s Rib Shack (EEOC v. RSPS Holdings, et al., Civil Action No. 5:24-cv-00049)franchisees in Georgia chose to act in blatant defiance of what is right when they subjected a female employee to daily, unwanted advances from a manager that fabricated a workplace environment of fear, degradation, and ultimately, career sabotage when she was fired for complaining.

Teenagers must be prepared if they face workplace harassment, even if employers have taken precautionary measures. If harassment occurs, the first step is to report it immediately to a supervisor or HR. Reporting will begin the documentation process and often results in a quicker resolution.

If internal channels fail to provide resolution, it may be necessary to seek external help. Sexual harassment lawyers are experienced in navigating the complexities of such cases. They can provide the support needed to ensure that the legal weight of sexual harassment laws is used to protect young victims.

Parents, educators, and employers must work together to create a safe and supportive environment for teenagers. By taking a unified stand, we can ensure that our teenagers are not only unscarred by their first job experience but are also armed with the resilience and wherewithal to face the complexities of the working world, no matter the odds.