Halliburton to Pay $280K to Settle Claim It Breached Bias Pact (1)

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By Patrick Dorrian

Halliburton Energy Services Inc. will pay $280,000 and provide a fired worker with a positive employment reference to resolve allegations by the U.S. government that the company didn’t fulfill all the terms of a 2014 agreement settling the worker’s disabilities bias claims.

The July 11 consent decree is a reminder that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will ensure that employers live up to agreements resolving job discrimination charges. It comes a month after a federal judge in Mississippi found the agency likely was correct that the company breached a 2014 pact when it failed to rehire Jason Anderson into a $100,000-a-year job carrying certain duties.

The judge in a June 12 ruling gave Halliburton 10 days to show why the 2014 agreement shouldn’t be enforced as written. He rejected the company’s contention that its 2014 mediated settlement with the EEOC only obligated it to offer Anderson a new job at a specified rate of pay and carrying certain duties.

The specific words used in that agreement matter, and Halliburton in the pact “unambiguously” promised to give Anderson another job, Judge Carlton W. Reeves of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi said.

The employment reference required by the new settlement may not comment on Anderson’s eligibility for rehire with the oil and gas exploration company.

Halliburton continues to deny that it breached the earlier pact but agreed to resolve the EEOC’s lawsuit claiming that it did to avoid “further litigation,” the consent decree says.

The company July 12 declined Bloomberg Law’s request for comment.

“When the EEOC settles with an employer to resolve a matter, whether through litigation or its alternative dispute resolution process, the agency fully expects the employer to fulfill the terms of the agreement,” Marsha L. Rucker, the regional attorney for the EEOC’s Birmingham district office, said in a July 11 statement announcing the decree. “This case should serve as an example that when an employer refuses to abide by the terms of a mediated settlement agreement, the EEOC will not hesitate to seek the courts’ assistance to bring the employer into compliance.”

EEOC attorneys Gerald L. Miller, Gina Pearson, and Kurt S. Fischer in Birmingham, Ala., and Harriett F. Oppenheim in Jackson, Miss., also represented the agency. Christine S. Keenan and Jeremy J. Landry in Baton Rouge, La., and Taylor B. Smith in Columbus, Miss., all of the Kullman Firm, represented Halliburton.

The case is EEOC v. Halliburton Energy Servs., Inc., S.D. Miss., No. 3:16-cv-00233, consent decree filed 7/11/18.

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