HOUSTON – American Piping Inspection, Inc. (API), an Oklahoma-based testing and piping inspection services company, agreed to pay $250,000 and to provide other substantial equitable relief to resolve a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a Black radiographer hired to work out of API’s Midland, Texas office was subjected to racist remarks by his supervisor, beginning his first day on the job and continuing throughout his employment at API. The supervisor, who was white, used the “N-word” to refer to the radiographer and to other minority employees. He also made highly offensive racist “jokes” in the presence of the radiographer and other employees. Despite the radiographer complaining to API’s vice president, the company took no corrective action. Instead, the defendant’s Midland management subjected the radiographer to harsher discipline compared to other non-Black radiographers. It then fired him, the EEOC said.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race and retaliation. The EEOC filed suit (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. American Piping Inspection, Inc., Case No. 4:21-cv-3187) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, after first attempting to reach pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
In addition to the $250,000 in monetary relief, the three-year consent decree approved by the federal court requires API to revise its anti-discrimination policies and to distribute them to its employees and new hires. The decree requires API to provide all its managers and human resources personnel training on the prohibition of race discrimination and retaliation to ensure they know their legal obligation to prevent, address, and remedy workplace discrimination. The decree also requires API to post a discrimination notice and EEO posters at all its worksites and submit to the EEOC periodic compliance reports. The court will retain authority to enforce the terms of the decree for its duration.
“This case is a strong reminder that unlawful race discrimination and retaliation continue to permeate our workplaces,” said Rudy Sustaita, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Houston District Office. “Other employers should take heed and review their practices and policies to ensure compliance with federal law. Otherwise, the EEOC will enforce the law against violators and seek redress for aggrieved employees.”
Houston District Office Senior Trial Attorney Claudia Molina-Antanaitis said, “Racial slurs, comments, and other workplace harassment are not only illegal, deeply hurtful to the individual employee, but also poisons the work environment. Employers must take prompt and fair corrective action, as the law requires, in response to all harassment complaints.”