The Birmingham office of the EEOC brought suit against Helmerich & Payne International Drilling Company in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi in November 2005. The complaint alleged discrimination based on race in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. More specifically, the defendant allegedly subjected African American employees to a racially hostile work environment which was so severe as to affect the terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. A discovery dispute arose in the case upon the EEOC filing a Motion for Protective Order; the motion was ultimately granted in part and denied in part. EEOC v. Helmerich & Payne International Drilling Company, No. CV 05-691 (S.D. Miss. Mar. 20, 2007). After two settlement conferences, the parties settled the case in October 2007, by entry of a consent decree. A private attorney filed a Notice of Attorney's Lien in this cause in September 2007, alleging that he was entitled to a contingency fee based upon amounts paid in settlement to two of the complainants. As of April 22, 2008, the dispute over the lien was ongoing.
The decree included non-discrimination and non-retaliation clauses, required the development of an anti-discrimination policy and required the defendant to post and distribute the policy. The decree also required the defendant to train all of its managers, superintendants, toolpushers, drillers, crane operators and human resource personnel with direct responsibility for its offshore platform rigs in the Gulf of Mexico on race, discrimination, harassment and retaliation annually. The decree also called for the implementation of a complaint resolution process in which an aggrieved employee could notify the Director of Human Resources if a supervisor does not address a complaint of racial harassment. The defendant was also required to submit biannual narrative summaries of each complaint of racial harassment made by aggrieved employees with the Director of Human Resources along with a statement regarding the resolution of each such complaint. The EEOC also maintained the ability to enter and inspect the defendant's offshore platform rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. The injunctive parts of the decree had a two year term. If the EEOC found non-compliance, the decree allowed for court enforcement. In addition, the defendant agreed to pay $290,000 to be distributed to seven individual employees.Justin Kanter - 05/29/2008